Guest View by Colin Clark

Former Scotland Office farming minister

'Every farmer in Scotland depends on the UK internal market and the smooth running and free flow of goods is essential to 70% of Scottish agricultural output.

Devolution allowed decisions to be made at the nation level, but it is not supposed to undermine free trade that has existed for hundreds of years within the UK.

Barriers to trade would rapidly undermine the meat industry, distilling, the grain and feed trade, let alone the chemicals and pesticide supply modern farming depends on.

The proposed UK internal market legislation has two fundamental principles. Mutual recognition for goods and services from one part of the UK will be recognised across the country. The other is non-discrimination, so there is equal opportunities for companies – whether they are in Angus, or East Anglia.

In no way is this a power grab, with more than 100 new powers coming from the EU to the devolved administrations.

The NFUS has recognised the UK’s internal market is essential to Scottish farmers, however members should ask why a recent press release undermines the legislation.

Farming lobby groups should be able to support UK legislation without worrying about repercussions from the Scottish government. For all NFUS members, a smooth running UK market is essential for the vast majority of farm output. Any barriers will undermine the price or damage the market.

From NFUS' perspective, the first priority must be a level playing field and a healthy market within the UK for Scottish farmers.'