Three-quarters of Scottish farmers’ income and a substantial part of their exports are at risk if Britain leaves the European Union (EU), a coalition of industry leaders has warned.
The EU delivered 74% of farmers’ income in 2015 while 40% of Scottish sheep meat and large quantities of Scotch beef were exported to Europe, the coalition said in a letter to the Scottish Farmer newspaper.
The letter is signed by former NFU Scotland presidents John Cameron, Ian Grant, George Lyon, Nigel Miller and Jim Walker.
Angus McCall, director of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, Andy Moir, chairman of AgriScot and former chair of the NFU Scotland cereals committee, and Lochy Porter, chairman of Angus Soft Fruits, also put their name to the document.
It states: “For Scottish farmers the stakes could not be higher.
“The financial support for farm businesses, access to export markets for Scottish lamb, beef and cereal exports, and the future competitiveness of our industry are all on the line.
“Whether you love or hate the EU, it delivered 74% of farmers’ income in 2015 and their markets took 40% of our sheep meat and substantial quantities of quality Scotch beef.
“Remaining part of the EU is the only way to guarantee these advantages will continue.
“Owen Paterson MP of Leave promises farmers they will still continue to receive the same financial support
“Yet Boris’s bus has emblazoned on the side of it that all the EU money will go to save the NHS - completely contradicting Paterson.
“Leaving means we lose the unfettered access to our prime export markets.
“Countries such as Norway only secure the same access to EU markets as we do by paying the same EU membership fees, implementing the same EU rules such as sheep tagging but have no say over the rules. The worst of all worlds.
“No doubt many are scunnered with the form-filling, the failure of the Scottish Government’s shambolic IT system and some may be tempted to say ‘to hell with it’ and vote to leave the EU.
“We would urge everyone to think hard about the long-term damage that would do to Scottish agriculture.
“A vote to Remain in the EU is the best way to secure the future prosperity of our industry and we would urge everyone to vote to stay In on Thursday.”