By NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick

IN RESPONSE to coronavirus, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily ask the membership to not hold any meetings or gatherings until further notice.

This is not an easy step to take as Government guidelines are not at this level yet. However, this decision will allow us to take stock and behave responsibly for both our members and staff.

The planned rally on trade standards in London on March 25 has been postponed and we are being asked questions on whether we proceed with our plans to celebrate Scottish food and farming across the country on May 23 already.

Regardless of whether that goes ahead, we will continue to prepare materials for the day that can be used in the future to share the fantastic story that we have to tell and want to share with Scottish consumers.

Ironically, this is probably the best time of year for us to be making this call as there will be an element of self-isolation going on on Scottish farms and crofts with the spring work of lambing, calving, ploughing and seeding all keeping folks heads down, making meetings less frequent.

We, as a Union and as individuals, have a duty of care for each other, and this cannot be lost in these unusual and exceptional circumstances.

As every sector of society puts plans in place to mitigate the impact of the disease, the farming fraternity must act responsibly when it comes to limiting the spread of this virus. The fit and healthy are still potential to be carriers to our more vulnerable friends and families.

It must also be borne in mind that the average age of farmers and crofters is very close to the vulnerable age that Government advisers are asking to be extra careful.

On the flip side of this, we are asking people to isolate themselves which has been shown to be a major element in mental wellbeing for our membership.

It is not a prison sentence, it is just being cautious so please keep in touch with one another and your neighbours. We are working with an unknown and relying on science and politicians to guide us.

NFUS as an organisation will still be doing all the work our members are expecting but it will be getting done in a different way. These discussions need to be had but the technology exists, and I am sure the desire is there to be pushing on ensuring the best representation of the industry at all levels on all issues.

It seems slightly bizarre that we have come to the 21st century, with all the great scientific achievements in health care like transplant surgery, medicines, cancer care, and vaccinations, and yet in the face of this virus the best advice remains washing your hands properly in warm soapy water and singing two choruses of happy birthday.

People are panic buying, as they did during the ‘beast from the east’, highlighting how vulnerable our food supply chain can be to volatility and a need for greater emphasis on food security for the UK – all lessons we need to emphasise in future policy.

Please look out for one another and watch out for Government advice at:

And a reminder for those who need emotional, practical or financial support in times of need, our rural charity RSABI is there to support people in Scottish agriculture and can be contacted on 0300 111 4166.

(This blog first appeared on