Dear sir

I write in response to the letter from the Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross MP on these pages (‘Farming is personal for me’ – September 4, 2020).

Like Mr Ross, agriculture is also personal to me. Representing NFU Scotland’s 8500 farmers, crofters and growers is a responsibility I take extremely seriously; throughout my Presidency and my long involvement with NFU Scotland, I have been committed to doing my utmost to secure a profitable, sustainable future for our fantastic industry.

To achieve this ambition means working with politicians from all our relevant legislatures and political parties positively and constructively. From my engagement with Mr Ross during his time in elected politics there is no doubt in my mind that he shares this ambition.

I welcome Mr Ross’ resolve that he would oppose any measure that would damage existing protections to standards of agricultural production in the UK. Indeed, the Conservative Party manifesto stated: “In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.”

It very much remains NFU Scotland’s position (and the position of all UK farming unions) that the best way to protect domestic standards is to put safeguards in legislation that ensure produce imported into the UK is produced to at least the same high standards as those required of domestic producers.

Whilst the UK Government and Scottish Conservatives may not entirely agree with NFU Scotland’s approach to meeting the ultimate end goal, I believe from Mr Ross’ letter that there is space to have constructive discussions on how to secure the best outcome for Scottish food and farming in the coming weeks.

I look forward to working closely with Mr Ross within his role as Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, as I do with his colleagues and counterparts on all other party benches.

Andrew McCornick

President, NFU Scotland