SCOTLAND'S Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board is moving too slowly, according to NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy.

Discussing the board, which he co-chairs alongside Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands Mairi Gougeon, he said: “What is happening is painfully slow and there is a high risk of going off course. If you don’t take the views of the industry, you don’t have a cat in hell’s chance to hit targets.”

The issue was raised at the Turriff Show political debate on the union's stand. Gordon constituency SNP MSP Gillian Martin stated her view that future farm support should reward industry 'best practice', giving examples such as using biodiesel, sequestering carbon, being a living wage employer and using certain fertilisers.

Her colleague, Gordon SNP MP Richard Thomson, said: “The elephant in the room is that we bought into the dogma that you don’t need to grow your own food as you can buy it in. But Covid and the war in Ukraine has taught up this isn’t the case.”

There was widespread agreement across the SNP, Conservative and Lib Dem politicians at the event that the Government and local authorities should be buying local when it comes to food. Aberdeenshire council chief executive Jim Savage, who also attended the debate, explained that this was already a priority within collective buying for Aberdeen city and the Highlands and Islands councils. However, he did note that obtaining enough volume for schools and care homes could be a challenge when trying to source local.

Also discussed at the meeting was the collapsed deal to save the CF fertiliser plant at Ince in Cheshire. UK Minister of State for Farming, Fisheries and Food, Victoria Prentis, said the Government was not about to step in and save the facility. But she said she remained hopeful that a buyer could be found.

“I dont think all is lost yet,” she insisted. Despite being a plant down, Ms Prentis stated that the UK’s fertiliser needs were ‘well provided for’ by CF’s other manufacturing facility at Billingham and urged farmers to place orders in plenty of time to provide confidence to the manufacturer.