Opinion: Scottish government must show its hand on political reform

It could be argued that farming is sort of a gambler’s profession, placing big bets without any certainty of an outcome.

It could be as simple as planting that winter wheat crop in low elevation fields, or a longer term risk like investing in a new shed or a breeding bull.

These bets are not placed blind – past experiences or the learning of others often make these bets a more informed decision.

Additionally, the markets have been relatively stable and, if you’ve been all-in in the past, CAP support has been effective in filling the pot at the end of each year, allowing us to make the same mistakes again. the next year.

About the Author

Colin Ferguson

Colin Ferguson is a columnist and dairy farmer for Farmers Weekly on the Machars Peninsula in South West Scotland. With his parents and brother, he milks 450 cows on two units supplying Arla Foods. Colin is also the NFU Scotland Regional Chairman for Dumfries & Galloway and a Rural Leader for Scottish Enterprise.


See also: Scotland’s new rural minister asked about politics

There is, however, a new game in the works. Brexit Hold-em is sweeping the nation and, where there were once rules, now we have empty assurances and broken promises; you could say, a pack full of jokers with no card taken at face value.

However, we were promised new rules, which are fairer, more representative and offer better value for money.

Our own reluctance to define a future policy puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to long-term investing

The problem is that we are being asked to change our methods without yet knowing how success will be measured or rewarded.

To add to the woes, the ‘one system for all’ approach, conveyed by the EU’s CAP budget, is being replaced, and rightly so, by decentralized nations, each with their own vision and aspirations for way their rural economies should look.

With the current Scottish government determined to join the EU in the future and the rest of the UK seemingly determined to be as different as possible, will the different policies and support payments still allow us to trade fairly with our neighbors? the closest ?

More importantly, what will trade look like in a global Britain?

The conclusion of a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia last month has the potential to open up new markets.

However, the lack of consultation with the industry leaves her somewhat distraught.

Without a UK-wide collaborative approach, which builds on a global British brand, agriculture risks becoming even more disjointed, fighting among ourselves to make individuals stand out, while fighting for the leftovers. .

While Scottish farmers have been promised the status quo until 2025, that date is fast approaching.

Some may take comfort in watching the turmoil of Defra’s removal of the Basic Payment Plan.

But our own reluctance to define future policy puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to long-term investing.

We cannot, however, complain that we were not consulted on what that future should look like.

The five farmer-led groups recently set a direction for all major sectors of Scottish agriculture, following numerous other reports.

But the danger is that agriculture in Scotland will be left behind.

We have all the assets in terms of climate change, rural employment, the environment, biodiversity and healthy and affordable food.

We just lack the tools and the collaborative vision to play this hand.

The time for confrontation has arrived. The cards are on the table and we need the government to show its hand, hoping that the future of Scottish agriculture is a flush and not a flop delivered by pranksters.

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