A combination of global challenges and domestic politics will set the agenda for Scotland’s agriculture industry in 2010, according to NFU Scotland.
Speaking at its traditional Christmas media briefing, NFUS President Jim McLaren highlighted the importance of climate change and food security in shaping policy debates at a Scottish, UK, European and global level. These issues will be to the fore in the talks over the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which will develop significantly in 2010.
Closer to home, a UK general election will provide the opportunity to ensure farming and food issues remain high on the political agenda. Furthermore, the debate on future powers of the Scottish Parliament will move up a gear and give the industry a chance to debate the right constitutional arrangements for farming.
NFUS President Jim McLaren said:
“Whilst Copenhagen has proved a false dawn in delivering a world-wide, legally-binding agreement on tackling climate change, the debate on how industry and society addresses this challenge is only going to increase in intensity.
“Scotland’s world-leading emission reduction targets for 2020 and 2050 are very much at the forefront of our minds and we believe agriculture has a huge opportunity to position itself as a key deliverer of those targets. The inherently sustainable nature of much of our production can be bolstered by further moves to increase efficiency, which will lead to further emission reductions. On top of that, our potential to deliver on renewables needs to be grasped and the industry will be developing its climate change strategy as a top priority next year.
NFUS President“Next year will also see the first formal ideas emerge from the European Commission on the future shape of the CAP. We have engaged early on this issue in Scotland and the views of more than 1000 of our members at nation-wide meetings, combined with the countless others contacting us separately, has been key in identifying the big issues. Farmers in Scotland ultimately want their efforts rewarded fully by the market. But, in the ongoing absence of that, a simple support mechanism, which supports sustainable food production and environmental stewardship is crucial.
“The position of the UK Government, driven by Treasury, on farming support has flown in the face of Scottish views and the mainstream European view for many years now. With a general election in the offing, we must take the opportunity to try and change that position, by emphasising the huge benefits the UK will continue to reap from an efficient food production industry. With food and energy security back in the spotlight, it would be short-sighted to cut agricultural support in a short-term attempt to shore up battered public finances.
“As 2010 moves on, and the current Scottish administration seeks support for holding a referendum on independence, there is another useful opportunity to debate the right constitutional arrangements for agriculture. We plan to help our members reach their own view on those issues by highlighting the pros and cons of the different constitutional options.
“There are few certainties looking at the year to come. However, I am crystal clear that nation’s agricultural industry - as a provider of food and energy security, a key vehicle for addressing climate change and the foundation of a £10 billion food and drinks industry – should be back in the spotlight for all the right reasons.”
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