Scottish farmers have voiced fears at the prospect of an independent Scotland, saying there are “too many unknowns” to vote in favour.
Scots will cast their votes on 18 September and the Yes to independence campaign has taken a lead in polls predicting the outcome.
But a small survey by Farmers Weekly at north-east Scotland’s biggest livestock market Thainstone, Aberdeen, revealed concerns over currency, CAP and business taxes.
From a random sample of 10 farmers, auctioneers, hauliers and machinery dealers at the market on 5 September, all said they would be voting No to independence.
Unanswered questions over what Scotland’s currency would be, what membership terms the EU would demand and suggestions that businesses could face tax hikes were the most common concerns voiced. All of the respondents asked to remain anonymous.
While a lot of farmers liked the Scottish government, said one respondent, there was a “huge fear” of the uncertainty posed by independence.
“There are so many unknowns,” added one farmer. “It’s safer to stay together. [Looking at ] what we’ve got at the moment, farmers have done well.”
A beef and sheep farming couple said they were “frightened” of what would happen if Scots voted for independence, particularly because Scotland was a small country.
What currency an independent Scotland would have was one of the biggest concerns raised.
“I’m worried about the knock-on effect of currency, what credit terms we would get and the impact that could have on Scottish agriculture,” said a senior industry source at the market.
“I’m also worried about our relationship with Europe, which is fundamental. Will Europe accept us or only on different terms to the UK? Will they insist on us having the euro?”
Several people said agri-businesses had been advised to move their money to England ahead of the vote, for fear of increased taxes, while others said they would be selling up and moving if Scots chose independence.
However, many said that the anti-independence sentiment at Thainstone was not representative of the whole Scottish farming community and was perhaps due to it being a relatively prosperous area.
“The farming community is still split – there are some big players in the Yes camp and some big players in the No camp,” said an onlooker at the market.
After a confident start in the No camp, there was now worry the Yes campaign was gaining ground. However, most people thought the vote would be close but Scots would choose to stay in the UK.
Whatever happens on 18 September, all agreed that Scotland’s relationship with England would be different. “It will change forever,” said one farmer.