NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy will not be calling for Scottish farmers to emulate continental agricultural protests. Scenes of barricades, bonfires, and even bulldozers ploughing up streets have filled the mainstream media.

However, the Perthshire farmer believes the specific issues being rallied again in Europe are not being faced in Scotland and he hopes to use the Union’s upcoming AGM to get assurances from politicians to ‘fully recognise the importance of our sector’.

Mr Kennedy said: “The specific issues that have ignited large scale protests from farmers across Europe are not the same issues as we have here in Scotland. Rising red diesel taxation, extreme nitrogen regulations, policies requiring organic production to increase to 25%, and a proposed 30% set aside requirement for ecological schemes are what have understandably driven this action. These protests are also in advance of European elections this summer.

“At our AGM next week, we expect to hear from leading Scottish and UK politicians on how they will deliver for Scotland’s farmers and crofters, whilst acknowledging the many benefits that a vibrant agriculture sector will deliver for our rural economy, our rural communities, and our ambitions on increasing biodiversity and reducing emissions.

“NFU Scotland has continued to push for meaningful targeted funding and policy that will enable all of that to happen whilst at the same time delivering NFU Scotland’s vision for a profitable and sustainable industry.

“On Tuesday, January 30, we met with SNP MSPs on what we want from the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill, and today we are in Westminster meeting a number of MPs. We are now in a general election year, and we will be lobbying for categorical assurances in forthcoming party manifestos that fully recognise the importance of our sector.

The Scottish Farmer: NFUS president Martin KennedyNFUS president Martin Kennedy

He concluded: “NFU Scotland is a membership organisation that has on several occasions in its 111-year history, led public protests on behalf of farmers and crofters, most recently 14 months ago when hundreds of members gathered outside Holyrood at our #FoodNeedsAFarmer rally. This rally, focussed on food security, successfully kept the public on side and drew the attention of so many MSPs to the need for food production to be front and centre of the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill. It is paramount that we maintain a strong influential position with government and retain the confidence and support of our consumers.”

Meanwhile, NFU president Minette Batters has stated that protests are a ‘last resort’ for her organisation.

She said: “British farmers have the greatest sympathy for our farming colleagues across Europe who are facing huge challenges and uncertainty.

The Scottish Farmer: Minette Batters, President of NFU England and Wales Ref:RH31717295Minette Batters, President of NFU England and Wales Ref:RH31717295

“Here in the UK, we share their concern. Two years of unsustainably high production costs are putting farming families under mounting pressure. At the same time, recent flooding has devastated farmland meaning that thousands of pounds have simply been washed away as crops are destroyed.

“But in Britain we also have incredibly high public support for our farmers and growers and we’ve shown that when the public and farming sector come together, we can bring about important change.

“We do not take this support for granted. In 2020, more than one million people signed the NFU’s petition to safeguard British food and farming standards which led to greater government scrutiny over trade deals, and in 2023 nearly 50,000 signatures led to the Prime Minister hosting a Food Security Summit. This support is highly valued by our farmers and it can be highly influential, and because of it protests will always be a last resort.”