NFUS presses new Defra minister on Brexit challenges

Robert Goodwill, the new Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, toured two farms in Aberdeenshire, Scotland on Friday, April 5, where he met with representatives from the National Farmers’ Union in Scotland (NFU Scotland).

At that meeting, NFU Scotland members pressed the new minister on the importance of making Brexit a priority in his new role, which he took up last month following the resignation of George Eustice.

The NFU Scotland representatives were: vice presidents Martin Kennedy and Charlie Adam; north-east regional chairman Davie Winton; director of policy Jonnie Hall; and political affairs manager Clare Slipper.

 Local MPs Colin Clark and David Duguid were also in attendance.

During the meeting, NFU Scotland reiterated to the minister the importance of finding a withdrawal deal with the EU that ensures “free and frictionless trade”.

The union also pressed for clarification on the progress on the Agriculture Bill, and urged that no elements of it should be allowed to “disadvantage or side-line Scottish farmers”.

“Within weeks of Mr Goodwill coming into this post, we have managed to get him onto farms in Scotland to discuss directly with us the key issues affecting farmers and crofters and the impact Brexit could have on them,” said Davie Winton.

NFU Scotland enjoyed a very good working relationship with Mr Goodwill’s predecessor in this post, George Eustice, over five years. We are pleased to have built on that constructive dialogue in our initial discussions with the newly-appointed minister today.

He added: “This meeting follows months and years of intensive lobbying by NFU Scotland since the referendum to the UK Government to ensure that Brexit ensures a bright future for Scottish farmers and crofters.”

Winton concluded his remarks by saying: “At this crucial moment, NFU Scotland’s engagement with key ministerial players has never been more important, and we look forward to continuing discussions with Mr Goodwill and his department in due course.”