NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller stressed the importance of now looking to the future as he opened the Union’s annual Council, held this week at Battleby, near Perth.
Mr Miller, in his final address to council before stepping down as President in February 2015 reflected on 2014 but stressed that work is already ongoing to better tune the Union to suit its members’ needs, with constitutional changes to be discussed later in the day.
In looking to the future, Mr Miller also focussed on NFU Scotland’s forthcoming submission to the Smith Commission, which was formed following the referendum to look at further devolved powers for Scotland. Following several meetings and teleconferences over the last 10 days the Union is now currently pulling together views from its members on this matter.
Mr Miller commented: “It has been an incredible year, and it has got a lot of people involved in a level of politics that I’ve not seen before in my lifetime.
“It needs to be recognised that we are in a period of change, and there is a real appreciation amongst members that devolution and in particular new powers could be good for Scottish farming in the future.
“One issue consistently raised in our discussion on devolution is the need for a new transparent approach to decision making and representation of UK policy positions and, if necessary, having individual nations lead on areas most relevant to them.
“This is also about getting real benefits out of further devolution and celebrating Scotland being able to drive its own future and driving collaboration and synergy with our neighbours.”
In laying out workstreams for the Union in 2015, Mr Miller also stressed the importance that the red tape report by Brian Pack cannot be allowed to sit gathering dust and spoke about the 61 recommendations that have come out of it.
He commented: “Brian has done a great job looking at how red tape affects the industry, and potential solutions.
“There is the opportunity to really drive this, and one of the basic recommendations should be an advisory board which will overarch all administrative processes.
“It would be there to sense test our regulations, making sure there is no duplication functions and would be a great driver.
“One of our priorities and a genuine service to Scottish farming is to realise that ambition to push back regulation.”