Scottish countryside group’s plea against ‘cliff-edge’ Brexit

Countryisde groups have issed Brexit pleas. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Countryisde groups have issed Brexit pleas. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
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A countryside organisation has called on the UK Government to avoid a “cliff-edge” Brexit to safeguard the “unique interests of Scottish agriculture”.

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Scottish Land & Estates, which represents landowners and rural businesses across Scotland, has joined 13 other farming organisations in issuing a joint statement to the UK Government.

The statement urges the Government to secure an agreement on an initial transition period enabling the UK to retain “unfettered access to European markets” and stay within the customs union.

It also calls for a fully functioning immigration system to be put in place before freedom of movement ends to ensure farmers can access workers.

The organisations say they are committed to working with the UK Government and devolved administrations to “establish a new and better agriculture and land use policy” once the UK leaves the Common Agriculture Policy, and ask the administrations to work with them to establish a “collaborative policy framework and budget”.

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The statement recognises “opportunities” from Brexit but urges ministers to provide greater certainty for farmers as the exit date draws nearer.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “It is vital that the unique interests of Scottish agriculture are taken account of during Brexit negotiations and we would urge the UK Government and the devolved administrations to work together to deliver a new farming landscape that delivers for all.

“Scottish Land & Estates has been clear that there is a need for the sector in Scotland to change over the next decade and beyond, especially in the drive to increase business resilience, but that needs to be accompanied by a gradual transition in terms of our support framework as we leave the EU.

“There should be no cliff-edge, and that means ensuring the industry has access to the support, labour and trade markets required to ensure our farming sector remains a world leader.”