MEMBERS OF Islay farming community pressed the UK Government to commit to long-term financial support for Scottish agriculture, during a state visit by de-facto Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Lidington MP.

Meeting with farmers on the island, Mr Lidington learnt first-hand about the challenges facing island communities and the work being undertaken by farmers and crofters to integrate good livestock and environmental practice.

Tom and Robert Epps of Ardnave Farm, Loch Gruinart hosted the visit by the Minister on Friday, July 12.

Union members from Islay took the opportunity to highlight the challenges facing island communities, particularly those operating on Less Favourable Area land. They stressed to Mr Lidington why long-term financial and policy support is needed, if they wish to reap the rewards of a rapidly growing food and drink industry and to incentivise the delivery of public goods.

In addition, they also stressed the importance of retaining tariff free trade with Europe, and the protection of domestic agricultural standards in any future trade deals.

Islay NFUS branch chairwoman, Gill Johnstone, commented: “It is not often that such a senior member of the UK Cabinet visits the Scottish islands, so NFU Scotland was pleased that the Minister took the time to see and hear directly from farmers and crofters on Islay.

“This provided a critical opportunity at what is a very challenging time for all of Scottish agriculture to leave an impression on the Minister about what agriculture can deliver if it is valued by our policy-makers,” she continued.

“We were pleased that the Minister understood the public goods that active farming and crofting on Islay delivers, and this will provide NFU Scotland with a helpful lever in which to continue to lobby UK Government for a fully-funded, bespoke Scottish agricultural policy after Brexit that works in the interests of all of Scottish agriculture,” she concluded.