30 June 2000

Englishman and Scot present united front

BRITAINS farming industry has enough problems outside the UK without the added distraction of internal spats, according to NFU leader Ben Gill.

Making his first visit to the Royal Highland Show, Mr Gill and Scottish NFU president Jim Walker presented a united front, both insisting they had developed a constructive working relationship.

That, however, in no way signalled any immediate take-over of the 10,000-member Scottish union by the NFU, Mr Walker said.

Some Scottish NFU members, such as top fruit growers, already have their interests and problems handled by the NFU in London. But that made sense, both union leaders said. It was right that sectors with UK problems should be handled on a UK basis.

"We believe it is more appropriate to lobby separately in our own parliaments but together where we share a common goal," said Mr Walker.

Mr Gill agreed that it made sense to work closely together on issues that affected all farmers equally. "But it would be absolutely stupid, for example, to try and ram in the problems of the Scottish hills with the problems of the English hills because they are fundamentally different."

But Mr Gill later admitted that he would not want to see any major differences in how policies, such as future hill farming payments, are implemented in Scotland compared with England. &#42