Scottish farming leaders, who are anxious to be included in top level talks on CAP reform, have held a “milestone meeting” with DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman and Scottish secretary Michael Moore in London.
Agriculture is a devolved issue so NFU Scotland lobbying is usually concentrated at Holyrood but with the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament prior to the elections on 5 May and the ending of all parliamentary business the union’s new president Nigel Miller turned his attention to Westminster.
But, Mr Miller said the meeting was not a one-off, but marked the start of more frequent and open dialogue with the UK government.
The two key issues around CAP Reform raised by NFUS were establishing a clear process for Scottish views to feed in to the UK position and recognising that the industry in Scotland requires a specific and distinct approach.
Mr Miller said: “We outlined to Ms Spelman Scotland’s distinct agriculture sector, marked by 85% of our land being designated as Less Favoured – a significantly greater proportion of disadvantaged land than found south of the border and therefore requiring distinct policy solutions.
“Ms Spelman clearly recognised Scotland’s position and agreed that it was critical that the process of establishing the UK position was informed by the views in Scotland.”
The union also invited Ms Spelman to come north of the border to see for herself how agriculture differed from England.