Delayed payments, poor prices and political decisions will drive the agenda at NFU Scotland’s AGM when it meets in St Andrews today and tomorrow (February 11/12).
Scottish Government’s ongoing failure to deliver support payments to the majority of Scottish farmers, coupled with poor commodity prices and the wettest winter on record has made for a bleak start to 2016 for farmers
Over the two days, members will hear from both Scottish Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead and Defra Minister George Eustice. The industry is desperate for clarity on when overdue support payments will be forthcoming and, in terms of the total pot of funding available to Scotland, it wants to know when the promised Westminster review of the convergence dividend from Europe will take place.
Key policy debates will also look at the impact of the proposed Land Reform Bill, currently passing through the Scottish Parliament, and whether the recommendations of Scottish Government’s own Agricultural Holdings Review Group on how to bolster the tenanted sector are being properly recognised.
On the marketplace, where commodity prices for virtually every sector are at a low ebb, debates will look at the potential offered by home and export markets and what can be done to ensure farmers receive a fairer margin.
The AGM will also examine whether direct contracts with supermarkets are good or bad for the industry.
NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “This AGM will also hear about the opportunities that exist for our food and drink sectors, while also looking at the relationship farmers can have with our biggest customer – the UK retailers. And the Union’s AGM never shirks from looking at the big issues affecting our sector.”