Question Time: Farmer accuses SNP of 'stirring up' Brexit fears
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Martin Kennedy, president of the National Farmers Union Scotland, was left stunned by the European Commission’s attitude following a crunch meeting with the Brussels bloc earlier this month. The farming boss took part in a meeting between Copa, the body representing all the European farming unions, and Cogeca, which represents European farming cooperatives, and provided Scottish farmers with the chance to speak to European Commission officials.
But Mr Kennedy was left astonished by the Commission’s attitude towards Brexit after getting the impression that it is “all our fault and we now have to face the consequences”.
The NFU Scotland president has warned of the chaos facing farmers following Brexit around “inconsistencies in trade, backwards and forwards, between ourselves and Northern Ireland, as well as ourselves and the EU”.
He has warned the fluency in trade is not being reciprocated by the EU and is becoming increasingly frustrated at the bloc of accusing farmers from diverging from several food standards.
Mr Kennedy told Express.co.uk: “We have a tariff-free deal, which is grand, but we certainly don’t have friction-free trade, and that is causing real concerns.
“We don’t seem to have that equivalence recognition for some of the standards we have.
“The EU seems to think we are diverging from some of the standards, and that is certainty not the case.
“I got the impression from the EUI that is all our fault and we now have to face the consequences.”
He added: “I was very disappointed coming out of that meeting as negotiation involves some give and take from both parties.
“But my impression was this is our fault and the door is being closed on our face.
“There is a point the UK has left the EU and Brussels will not want other member states to leave, and it feels like it was our decision to leave and they aren’t going to make life easy for us.”
The NFU Scotland boss also explained Scottish farmers have had to “jump through hoops” before they can export any products , both in terms of manual checks and export health certificates, “and hat is what is causing export delays and friction for both the UK and Northern Ireland”.
However, he warned “that is not being felt coming in the other direction”.
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Mr Kennedy has warned the farming trade and markets cannot be undermined “under any circumstances” and has urged Boris Johnson to get tough with the EU to ensure this is avoided.
He concluded: “We’re paying the price for Brexit.
“The UK Government have to ensure we have things in place that the industry in Europe start feeling the friction going in the other direction and hopeful that will help them to relax their own stance.”
In a plea to the Prime Minister, he warned: “The message for Boris Johnson is we have fantastic trade here we want to have with Europe but we cannot under any circumstances undermine our market now.
“We must make sure our trade and markets are not undermined because we will lose the infrastructure, critical mass and people in rural areas.
“We need to do something to get the EU back to the table to ensure we can do trade with them
“We need to have equivalence and that should have been done through the Trade and Corporation Agreement but because we didn’t sign up to dynamic alignment, then it means they don’t agree to that equivalence.”
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