PLANS to amalgamate the Scottish NFU committees for unsupported sectors, such as pigs and poultry, with those of the NFU of England and Wales are being discussed as part of the Scottish unions efforts to reform its structure and cut its current losses of £100,000 a year.
"Our convenors of commodity committees for soft fruit, field vegetables, pigs, and poultry are being asked to consider the merits of linking up with English NFU for lobbying and information transfer," accordingly to SNFU chief executive Ed Rainy Brown.
The union was also planning to follow the NFUs example and open its doors to non-farmers who had an empathy with the industry and the countryside.
"We will give them a monthly magazine and access to the insurance services of the NFU Mutual. The English NFU has a countryside membership of 75,000 and it is a move we should follow," said Mr Rainy Brown.
The reform plan to turn 28 areas into eight regions was not going smoothly, he admitted, but insisted that the status quo was not an option. "We cannot go on losing money at the present rate. Times are hard for our members and we have to budget for a decline in income for next year until the changes work through."
This week, private meetings have been held up and down the country by areas being asked to amalgamate into regions. Union officials have also visited branch secretaries in Ayrshire where opposition to change is particularly strong.
Union vice-president Jim Walker said the organisation had to deliver a value-for-money package to its members. "When I went to headquarters, I was horrified to find the amount of quality information that was locked in there and not getting out to members. I could make weekly business decisions based on that information and we must find a way of getting it out to members so that they see a commercial value in paying their subscriptions," he said.
The union has a membership of 10,000 compared with 17,000 in 1980 and the biggest concern was the lack of members in the arable sector. "These men have looked at what we have to offer and found it wanting. We have to produce a product that they want to buy before we can begin to recruit," Mr Walker said.