NFU Scotland has stepped back from the protest movement sweeping across Europe by the agriculture sector.

President Martin Kennedy spoke out after more than 100 vehicles, many flying the Union flag and banners, took to the streets around Westminster on Monday evening.

Mr Kennedy said the discontent in some parts of the UK is ‘fully understandable’ but stopped short of calling for colleagues in Scotland from protesting.

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He said: “As the threat of the green agenda, extra layers of bureaucracy, lax import controls, low retailer returns and decreasing support payments hit farmers on top of high input costs, the strain is bound to reach breaking point.

“I have been asked on many occasions if we should be taking the same type of action. At the moment, my answer to this is ‘no’. We need to ask ourselves exactly what would we be protesting about? What we cannot risk losing is consumer confidence and support for farmers, especially here in Scotland.

That does not stop us from making our case loud and clear. I have absolutely no doubt that the #FoodNeedsAFarmer rally we staged 14 months ago at Holyrood made a significant difference to the outcome of the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill.”

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Mr Kennedy said the rally had galvanised resolve to make sure politicians were aware that food production should be ‘front and centre of any future agriculture policy’, but also encouraged more than 40 MSP to come out and speak to NFUS members.

He added: “Given the announcements we heard from the First Minister at our National AGM in Glasgow on February 9, it now looks like the Scottish Government has listened to many of NFU Scotland’s key priorities.

“The announcement that we will maintain the current levels of support up to 2027, and from 2027 we will still maintain at least 70% of support as direct support, has given a degree of confidence back to the industry.

“With the addition of maintaining a disadvantaged area support package alongside continuing coupled payments, this will also allow farmers and crofters to start to plan ahead again.”

Mr Kennedy said there is, of course, still a ‘significant amount of detail’ to come out in terms of the value and weightings of the proposed tier 2 measures.

However, knowing that the vast majority of support will be targeted at the first two tiers is very welcome indeed, Mr Kennedy added.

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He continued: “However, what we cannot forget is this is all dependent on the ringfenced funding package to continue to come up from Westminster, hence the reason we are in Westminster so often right now.

We are asking for this sum to be enhanced by at least another £170m to Scotland, delivered as a top-up with the same split across the tiers.

“This would not only recognise the decreasing value of our current support, but it would also put a significant cash injection into tiers 3 and 4 which is every bit as important, especially for the unsupported sectors.

“What was also heartening to hear from the First Minister was his language around growth, production, exports and value,” he continued.

“These are words that I’m not hearing very often from other senior politicians in the UK or Europe.”

Mr Kennedy concluded: “There is no doubt that there is a long way to go to ensure all farmers and crofters are in a profitable and sustainable position.

“But it’s plain to see that the importance of NFU Scotland’s lobbying is absolutely key to reaching that goal.”