Scottish Independence and Scotland's Future Scottish Innovation
Party (SIP) Agriculture
I think we need to look at our Agricultural
system to set the scene...
Some 75% of Scotland’s land mass is under
agricultural production, making the industry the single biggest
determinant of the landscape we see around us. Scotland’s farmers,
crofters and growers produce output worth around £2.3 billion a year,
and are responsible for much of Scotland’s £400 million food exports,
rising to £2.4 billion if whisky exports are included.
Around 65,000 people are directly employed in agriculture in Scotland –
this represents around 8% of the rural workforce and means that
agriculture is the third largest employer in rural Scotland after the
service and public sectors. It is estimated that a further 250,000 jobs
(1 in 10 of all Scottish jobs) are dependent on agriculture.
The agri-food sector is now the UKs largest manufacturing sector.
Around 85% of Scotland is classified as Less Favoured Area. This is an
EU classification which recognises natural and geographic disadvantage.
There are large numbers of farms in north west Scotland, but these are
significantly smaller in terms of the numbers of livestock/area of crops
grown than farms elsewhere. Sheep farming is the predominant type of
farming in the north west and there are also many sheep farms in the
south of the country. Larger cereal farms are concentrated in the east.
Beef farming takes place throughout Scotland, but is particularly common
in the south west. This area also has the bulk of the dairy industry.
According to the Scottish Executive’s Environment and Rural Affairs
Department, the average net farm income for 2007/08 is estimated to be
Total income from farming in Scotland in 2008 was £630 million.
Around 65,000 people are directly employed in agriculture in Scotland.
Best estimates suggest that for every worker employed in agriculture
another three workers are employed elsewhere. These jobs are largely in
agricultural supply, and in food and drink processing.
For the Scottish farming
and food industry, access to the EU market without barriers and any new
obstacles has always been a priority. Next to the rest of the UK, Europe
remains the largest destination for Scottish food exports and a market
that offers a good opportunity for growth.
Now that we know the Prime Minister has ruled out remaining within the
Single Market, what will become of utmost importance to the Scottish
agricultural industry is that the Prime Minister achieves her objective
of a bold and ambitious free trade agreement with the EU.
NFU Scotland wants barrier and tariff-free trade as well as the freedom
to set our own appropriate rules for farming. With the UK and Scottish
Governments both now having set out their opposing stalls, for NFU
Scotland there will be a renewed focus for discussions with the both
governments on a number of vital issues.
Will the future trade arrangements allow Scottish producers the best
possible access to EU markets, and could this be in the form of a
‘special deal’ as has been suggested for the automotive and financial
services industries? With freedom of movement clearly still presenting a
sticking point, will we retain and secure access to a competent and
reliable workforce? And will the negotiation allow the appropriate
agricultural policy to be developed in the UK that provides appropriate
funding levels and flexibility in policy-making that recognises
Scotland’s unique agricultural systems. It must also ensure that there
is a fair share of the risk and reward across the whole supply chain?
The Prime Minister argued today that her position was the most
“economically rational”, as it would increase trade and therefore job
and growth-creation. Whereas for the Scottish Government, it views
remaining within the Single Market as essential to securing “Scotland’s
economic, social and cultural interests”.
For NFU Scotland members, profitability is king. Scottish producers are
ready and waiting for the opportunities that Brexit can provide, but
this must not be at the expense of the provenance of Scottish produce;
nor result in cheap imports driving down standards of production.
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