While claiming that the Prime Minister’s decision to call a snap general election for 8 June raised more questions than answers over Brexit, farming bodies have promised to use the next seven weeks to press home the needs of the industry to politicians.
Speaking shortly after yesterday’s announcement, NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “For Scottish farmers, crofters and food producers looking for certainty and confidence in an uncertain, Brexit-dominated landscape, this announcement will only add to mounting questions about the future.”
It is vital that the interests of the agricultural industry are heardAndrew McCornick
However, he said it was clear that Brexit would be the over-arching issue over which the election would be fought, stating: “It is absolutely vital that the significant interests of the agricultural industry are heard properly in this election campaign given our clear interest in the Brexit negotiations.”
McCornick said that the manifesto process would allow all parties the opportunity to flesh out exactly what they wanted from the Brexit process, adding that it was vital that they take the opportunity to clearly state what their vision was for agriculture and food production.
“NFUS will seek to influence and scrutinise those manifestos and … we will pull together our own document reiterating our priorities for Scottish farmers and crofters,” he said.
He added that the union would do all it could to ensure the industry was provided with the information required to make an informed decision at the polls, stating that the organisation intended to hold a national hustings in the run-up to the vote.
English NFU president Meurig Raymond said that with farming arguably the sector most affected by Brexit, the industry would want to understand how each of the political parties planned to support “profitable, productive and progressive” agriculture.
He said: “The right post-Brexit trade deal is absolutely critical but equally well so is a new wider policy framework that better delivers for farming and the nation.”
• NFU Scotland office bearers will be in Westminster today to lobby MPs and to attend a re-scheduled meeting with Defra ministers, which was postponed last month due to the lock-down of Parliament following the terrorist attack.
A spokesman said that while the timetable for today’s debate on the general election remained to be finalised, it was hoped that the union would have the opportunity to make its views on Brexit issues known to Defra ministers first-hand.