'If Kennedy isn’t prepared to follow either of these options, then every current NFUS member should vote with their feet and resign their membership immediately'

The latest act of betrayal of the Scottish farming industry by the duplicitous SNP/Green administration is as predictable as it is treacherous.

Shona Robison, the Deputy FM and Cabinet Secretary for Finance has once again plundered £30 million from the Ag budget to dish out to the pet projects of a government who, frankly, couldn’t give a damn about rural Scotland. Hell, the First Minister couldn’t even bring himself to mention food or farming when he announced his Programme for Government, (such as it is), in September.

For six years between 2013 and 2019, his colleagues in ScotGov bleated on to the UK government about the injustice and unfairness of Convergence Funding being hijacked by Westminster to distribute across the UK when it belonged to Scotland.

In good faith, I sorted that out for them and the £30 odd million Bew money which followed was only granted, (and I only agreed with Fergus Ewing to try and negotiate and secure it), on the condition that it was ring fenced for agriculture.

That agreement has now been torn up and ignored with this second raid in two years, with an equivalent amount of funding being taken from another part of the Ag budget which is not ring fenced. Two-faced and underhand don’t come close!!

So, £60 million quid pocketed from the rural economy and given to God knows which worthless cause or to help fill the financial black hole created by years of economic mismanagement and giveaways by this rabble. Rural Scotland, and livestock farming in particular which is the backbone of Scottish agriculture, has never faced economic hardship like it.

So £60 million circulating in rural areas, particularly more remote areas, would make a significant difference to people’s lives far beyond the farmgate across Scotland. But no, appeasing striking union members and supporting every madcap Green Party project take priority in the “Lalaland” that the Scottish government has become.

And what has the Cabinet Secretary who is supposed to represent the interests of the forgotten part of Scotland (actually most of its’ landmass), said, or more importantly, done about this? The answer of course is absolutely nothing, zip, sod all. Mairi Gougeon has fought for nothing around the Scot Gov Cabinet table and delivered nothing in her time in office. That’s not just my opinion, that is a fact.

With the encouragement of her so-called policy officials, she has presided over the stench of stagnating policy for our industry since the day she started. It was clear when Sturgeon signed a pact with the Greens that our industry was to be sacrificed on the altar of the extreme Green fringe, just as the former Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, was sacrificed for daring to point this out – and so it has proved.

Half the Bew money was to be directed to the beef industry to improve efficiency, make it more resilient and in turn reduce emissions from suckler herds, which are allegedly responsible for half of agriculture’s GHG emissions.

Three years later, that promise has been shredded and the sector continues to face baseless, sustained attacks from the Greens both inside and outside government, meaning a 12% decline in suckler cow numbers since I went in to bat on Convergence Funding.

The recent AgriScot event provided an ideal platform for Mairi Gougeon to do, or even say, something positive for our industry. In the end, she announced half a million quid (no doubt of rehashed funding), to support – and I quote - “the next generation of farmers, imperative if we want our agriculture sector to continue to innovate and thrive.”

The sad truth is the way she is going, there won’t be a next generation.

Next to her at AgriScot was Martin Kennedy, the NFU Scotland President, engaged in his now legendary love-in with ScotGov and this Cabinet Secretary in particular. He rambled on about new entrants, flooding, beavers and some worthless rubbish about labelling and it was Mairi this, and Mairi that from start to finish.

Cringe doesn’t come close to describing this performance. Meanwhile, the bold Mairi had already agreed to give her Lord and Master thirty million quid and didn’t even manage to tell her wee puppy in advance.

So it was left to Shona Robison to break the bad news to Martin who, as ever, was ‘angry and frustrated’ that he’s been shafted again and now a strongly worded letter has been sent. But don’t worry folks, the DFM has promised Martin that we will get the £60 million back someday. Of course, we will, a bit like the promises that islanders will get a decent ferry service.

Astonishingly, Mairi Gougeon has since put out a press release with the usual SNP moans about the UK government headed ‘Agri sector requires funding certainty’, going on to state this is necessary due ‘to the long term nature of investment decisions and long lead-in time for farmers, crofters and land managers’.

Is this serious from a Cabinet Secretary who has presided over a policy vacuum for two and a half years and has given away funding from the very industry she now claims needs ‘certainty’? Dishonest, untrustworthy, and hypocritical, are just some of the printable adjectives to describe this claptrap trying to shift the blame yet again from her own inadequacy to DEFRA or Treasury.

If you weren’t sure before, be sure now: this SNP/Green gather-up will be the death knell of rural Scotland.

I get that Humza Yousaf, like his predecessor, couldn’t give a monkey about rural Scotland – we can all sort that out at the ballot box in due course. What I don’t get and can’t forgive, is an NFU President who has a zip-up his back and has been worked like a puppet by this lot since he agreed to join them on the now infamous and useless ARIOB policy group.

He claims that having a seat at that table means he can influence ScotGov and Ag Policy. Well, if we had any kind of policy or a Cabinet Secretary prepared to fight for that policy being implemented, and more importantly, funded, I could see where he is coming from. But we don’t and every single shred of evidence in the last two and half years makes that blindingly obvious.

So, Kennedy and his cronies have well and truly nailed their colours to the mast of this sinking ferry and I’m afraid he isn’t going to change, despite multiple warnings from many people, including his ex-CEO Scott Walker that this would happen. NFUS with Kennedy at its’ helm doesn’t represent my or my family’s interests. He doesn’t represent the majority of farmers’ interests that I know, being stuck in the pocket of this lot.

So, there are only two alternatives left for him. First, as a former President myself, I know how tough the job can be, but if you’re not cutting the mustard you need to move off and do something else. Second, if Kennedy meant to stay he had better change his tack radically and tell the First Minister very publicly that he has no confidence in the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs. And break off all communication with ScotGov until they start taking rural Scotland seriously with a Cabinet Secretary who can actually be bothered to fight for our interests.

If Kennedy isn’t prepared to follow either of these options, then every current NFUS member should vote with their feet and resign their membership immediately. In fact, folks, do it now and he will have to act!

This simply can’t go on. We have been shafted once too often and unless we make a stand now it will be too late for many farmers and crofters.