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Rural leaders back Scotland staying part of UK

The key benefits for Scottish farming and food businesses of Scotland staying within the UK family has been outlined by a number of leading figures in Scottish agriculture.

Today, six former Presidents and nine former Vice Presidents of National Farmers Union Scotland and the former Chair of Scottish Quality Meat Scotland have made it clear the advantages to the sector of saying ‘No Thanks’ to separation.

The agriculture sector in Scotland is an important part of the Scottish economy.

In 2013, Scotland’s farmers, crofters and growers produced around £3.14 billion worth of output.

Around 65,000 people are directly employed in agriculture in Scotland, around 2.7% of Scotland’s jobs with a further 250,000 jobs supported by the sector.

As part of the UK, the regulatory regime surrounding the movement of livestock has as few burdens as possible. That means transporting livestock and produce across the border to England does not require the extensive form-filling and red-tape which would happen between two separate countries that have different regulatory regimes.

Our agricultural sector is better placed to thrive as part of the UK. Scotland’s farmers have free and open access to a home market of more than 63 million customers UK wide. Scottish produce competes equally with other “British branded” items in the rest of the UK. Currently, 90% of produce sold south of the Border is branded British.

However, if we walk away from the rest of the UK then our farmers sales could suffer as they would lose this branding, forcing them into direct competition with English, Welsh and Northern Irish produce.

Benefits to Scotland’s agricultural sector of remaining part of the UK
* Keeping the pound, which is essential for farm businesses.

* Keeping a UK home market of 63 million consumers for our large volumes of food exports.

* Securing our current CAP payments and an uplift in payments in 2017 when the UK review of convergence is completed.

* Keeping the best of both worlds with all aspects of agriculture decided in Holyrood but still enjoying the benefits of sharing the risks and the influence of the UK on the world stage.

NFU Scotland Presidents supporting a No Vote:

Sir Ian Grant KT, CBE – president from 1984 to 90

Jim Stobo CBE president 1973 to 74

J.A (Sandy).Inverarity CBE president 1970 to 71

Sylvester Campbell OBE president 1974 to 75

George Lyon president from 1997 to 1999

Sandy Mole president from 1996 to 97

Vice Presidents supporting a No Vote:

Barclay Forrest fro, 1979 to 80

George Anderson from 1981 to 86

John Goodfellow from 1986 to 89

Stewart Whiteford from 1996 to 98

Peter Stewart from 1999 to 2003

Peter Chapman from 1998 to 2000

Bob Howat from 2003 to 07

John Picken from 2011 to 13

Former chairman of Quality Meat Scotland:

Donald Bigger

Commenting, former President of the NFU Ian Grant said:

“I’m sure I speak for the majority of rural leaders who believe we have the best of both worlds with all aspects of agricultural policy decided here in Scotland but still enjoying the benefits of sharing the risks, a large home market and the power and influence of the UK on the world stage.

“The majority of rural leaders have drawn on their lifetime experience of the food and farming sector and collectively we believe that Scottish agriculture is better off remaining part of the UK family.

“On a range of issues such as currency, which is vital to the farming sector, tax and fiscal policy, or securing continued and increasing Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) support there is no doubt that future economic prospects for farm and food businesses will be better off remaining within the UK.

“The question of the currency we would use is central to the economic case for independence and yet we still have no idea what currency we would be trading in.

“Currency is of key importance to farm businesses as the prices they receive and the CAP support they enjoy are determined by the exchange rate and therefore the failure to spell out an alternative leaves them completely in the dark.

“The Yes campaign has made many promises of higher public spending and greater wealth redistribution but there’s no explanation of how they will be paid for.  Oil revenues are much lower than the Scottish Government predicted and that can only mean taxes will have to rise to pay for the promises and small businesses can expect to bear the brunt.”

Former Chair of Quality Meat Scotland Donald Biggar said:

“UK markets are key to the prosperity of Scottish farming businesses with 70% of our meat production sold into the rest of the UK, much of it marketed under a British home produced label.

“Turning ourselves into foreign exporters in 90% of that current home market is sheer folly and it will hit returns to Scottish producers hard if we become independent.”

Get Involved

If you agree that the best future for Scotland’s agricultural sector is as part of the UK then get involved and join our campaign today.

Say No Thanks to separation on 18th September 2014