No vote must lead to food and drink platform

NFU Scotland believes Scotland’s decision to remain within the United Kingdom must provide a platform to drive its farming and food and drink sectors forward.

In the run up to the vote, the Union remained impartial but hosted referendum debates the length and breadth of country, in which more than a third of the Union’s membership participated. The key issues raised revolved around currency, membership of the EU, access to markets and timescales for constitutional change.

The huge level of interest that the farming and rural community had in the debate was mirrored across Scotland’s towns and cities.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said: “The referendum kindled an unprecedented engagement with politics across rural and urban Scotland. The decision to remain within the Union has been made and that must now provide the platform for Scotland to move on. From our perspective, it is imperative that in moving forward, Scotland fulfils the huge potential within our farming and food and drink sectors.

“As a representative organisation that brings together farmers and crofters across all sectors, we will work to unite all politicians, regardless of party or parliament, on the need to capitalise on the real opportunities for our produce both at home and abroad.

“Further powers for Scotland have been promised. Clarity on the scope of those powers and timescale for delivery will be important if momentum for positive change is to be maintained. There is to be a debate in Westminster on 16 October to consider extra devolved powers for Scotland, a white paper by the end of November and draft legislation by January 2015. The process of how NFU Scotland will engage in that debate starts today.

“We will formally write to both campaigns, thanking them for their willingness to engage with the farming community; their commitment to making the referendum process work and the need to accept the result and move forward.

“The referendum has split Scotland but the impartial position that NFU Scotland adopted throughout is now a vital tool as Scotland and the UK move into a new political world. We can bridge the political landscape in Scotland and help to develop and energise a better future. Even before the vote was known, there was recognition that we were on the threshold of an era of change.”