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Farmers and fishermen unite for Brexit call

Left to right: Simon Collins, Ian Gatt, Andrew McCornick and NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker at the Royal Highland Show on Thursday.

NFU Scotland and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation have teamed up to call on the Scottish Government to ensure that the industries get the best possible outcome from Brexit.

The two bodies want to work closely with ministers and civil servants to minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities that may come with leaving the European Union.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick met Scottish Fishermen’s Federation boss Ian Gatt at the Royal Highland Show on Thursday, and they intend to meet again in the autumn.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins was also present.

They are keen to ensure that “sufficient resources are available to deliver the capacity that will be needed to implement trade and export policy” after Brexit.

“Everybody recognises that Brexit will create difficulties, but we believe that if government and the sectors work together these can be overcome,” McCornick said.

“This is an opportunity for a bold approach to policy which will make Scottish agriculture productive, innovative and, above all, profitable.”

Gatt added that both the fishermen’s federation and the farmer’s union are “seriously concerned about how prepared the Scottish Government is for a range of Brexit scenarios and about its ability to exercise responsibilities repatriated from Brussels”.

“We are seeking assurances from ministers that they will have the human and material resources to exercise the full range of devolved powers in the run up to, and after Brexit,” he said.

“As we know from many years of experience, close collaboration with the Scottish Government on farming and fisheries is essential to smooth day-to-day operations.”

The Scottish Government, meanwhile, has launched a consultation seeking comments on “options to stabilise and simplify income support for land managers in Scotland in the period immediately after the UK Government takes us out of the European Union”.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said that “as we are taken out of the EU, we must now decide how radical we wish to be, and importantly, how fast we wish to change”.