rural scotland

Rural businesses resilient and flexible but still urgently require Brexit certainty

Press Release

Following last night’s vote in the House of Commons and ongoing debates about the way forward for Brexit, Scottish Land & Estates has set out its key concerns for land-based businesses in Scotland.

Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director, said: 

“Whilst the call to avoid a No Deal Brexit is widely accepted, we must acknowledge that every Brexit scenario presents various pros and cons for land-based businesses in Scotland, and our membership has diverse views on which scenario provides the best future for our sector. 

“One thing they all agree on is that businesses need certainty on the nature of our departure from the EU urgently. 

“Whatever the eventual outcome, our position is that the government must be fully aware of the consequences of each Brexit scenario, take every possible step to maximise the opportunities and benefits from whatever outcome is reached, and also take active measures to mitigate the negative effects that will inevitably accompany it. And most importantly, we need to agree the nature of our exit as soon as possible.

“What our sector wants to see the government ensuring is:

  • trade in agri-food goods that is as free as possible with our principal EU market
  • greater regulatory control and discretion over UK farm practice
  • maintained access to the seasonal and permanent workforce required by the UK food chain
  • our domestic production standards are upheld as part of international trade deals
  • a new agricultural policy framework that supports farmers as food producers, improves productivity and resilience, and properly rewards the delivery of public goods.

“The rural community has shown itself to be resilient, flexible and innovative for countless generations and we have every confidence that will continue to be the case in the face of uncertainty or challenges. However, businesses can’t deal with the impacts on their own. UK and Scottish Governments will have to address the big ticket items such as trade and labour. What we look to politicians to provide is the most advantageous framework in which landowners and managers can keep providing the vital economic, social and environmental benefits that Scotland already enjoys.

“There was already a strong argument for significant change in our sector long before Brexit, and that remains the case. We want to see future support and policy focused on creating resilient businesses, complemented by improved knowledge and skills to capitalise on new market opportunities and to address challenges such as climate change. This is what is needed to help rural Scotland to thrive, which in turn is crucial for the success and well-being of the whole country.”