SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Monday) reacted with concern to findings published by NFU Scotland that conclusively prove the scale of the crisis facing Scots farmers due to Brexit uncertainty.
The NFU survey finds that 100% of respondents view seasonal labour as of importance to their business, 48% had difficulty harvesting in 2017, and 65% are finding recruiting non-UK staff as more challenging as the UK becomes a less attractive place because of Brexit.
“NFU is an impartial, credible membership organisation with no axe to grind over Brexit one way or another. Farmers want to grow the food we eat, and of course run profitable businesses, and their warning today is stark. This is an important intervention from the NFU, and we would be wise to heed it.
“Aside from the obscenity of crops rotting in Scottish fields at a time when so many people are food poor, the economic impact on farming businesses and our wider economy are genuinely frightening. Farming is at the heart of Scottish society, and damage to it harms all of us.
“These are not esoteric, far away, hypothetical concerns. Farmers have been raising these issues for months and need answers now, or else they will do what anybody sensible would do, downsize their business, with today’s survey suggesting 58% of respondents are thinking of doing just that. That would mean less food, less economic activity in Scotland, before Brexit has even started.
“It is all the more tragic because solutions can be found, but the UK Government’s pathological inability to have a rational discussion about immigration has prevented any progress. Immigration has been great for Scotland and we want it to continue, so we can continue to enjoy the benefits as a society and an economy. Production of the food we eat is one of the sectors most exposed to leaving the EU and this NFU intervention considerably strengthens the case for freedom of movement."