Scotland's only voice on the European Parliament's powerful Agriculture Committee has today welcomed comments from Scotland's NFU that the official position of the membership organisation is in favour of continued EU membership for Scotland and the UK.
Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland’s Vice President will tomorrow give evidence to Holyrood's European and External Relations Committee setting out the Union's position, describing the EU's role in supporting farmers as "complex but invaluable".
Speaking from Brussels Alyn said:
"This is a welcome intervention from the Union, and I would pay tribute to Christina McKelvie MSP and her Committee for launching such a wide ranging and important inquiry into the implications for Scotland of the forthcoming EU referendum. The Union is quite right, EU membership is important for the sector, but we could do even better with the pro-farming Holyrood Parliament representing us in all matters instead of having to speak through Westminster and Whitehall.
"I travel the length and breadth of Scotland working with and for Scotland's farmers and growers, and while support for the EU is far from unqualified, and criticism of CAP is certainly merited and vocal, there is a clear recognition of the need to maintain direct support in some form. I have to gently remind farmers that it was the position of the UK Government to end that direct support and it was only pressure from MEPs and other member states that saw it maintained. While the CAP end product is far from perfect and is certainly proving hard to administer, it is vital for rural Scotland.
"I'm also glad to see the Union highlighting the benefits of the EU single market. Scots produce goes far beyond the shores of the UK and any threat to access is something we should be concerned about.
"Of course, the echoes of our own independence referendum will come loud and clear to anyone reading the Union's submission to the Committee. Where we proponents of independence set out in great detail how we would continue direct support, EU membership and access to the single market, we have seen absolutely nothing of substance from the anti-EU side.
"I remember the debates in the referendum well, with the UK side warmly promising UK support for renewables was watertight - a promise comprehensively broken - and that EU membership was only safe with the UK while defending a resolutely anti-farming UK apparatus which wanted to end direct support and subsequently withheld convergence funding which was rightly all due to Scotland. Farmers pay attention, and it is widely recognised that Scottish farming has done well out of Holyrood than we ever did form Westminster. How much better we could do as an independent state within the EU."