NFU Scotland candidates face virtual hustings

Covid restrictions have this year spared the four candidates in the race to be elected as one of two vice presidents of NFU Scotland the ordeal of the usual sea of farming faces at husting events around the country.

However, yesterday saw them face the first of three Zoom meetings which allowed farmers from around the country the opportunity to quiz them on their approach to the multitude of issues facing the industry.

The four candidates consisted of Fife farmer George Milne, Midlothians pig producer Robin Traquair, Renfrew producer Willie Harper and Aberdeenshire agri-trader, Andrew Connon.

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All four candidates stressed that while there would be plenty for the union to face up to in the most challenging periods in its 105 year history, food production had to be kept at the centre of the debate.

There was similar consensus on climate change front, with Milne stressing it was crucial that farmers gained recognition for the important role they played in mitigating global warming.

Shorter and better communication lines within the sector were also important, with Connon highlighting the “massive issue” of poor broadband provision in rural areas.

The only real divergence on the policy front became visible between Harper and Traquair.

Harper said farm incomes should be boosted by getting more from the marketplace:

“And that means getting more money from the consumer - end of.”

However Traquair said this was unrealistic with the country now open to more imports - and argued that making efficiencies such as improving animal and soil health was the way forward.

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