NFU Scotland has reacted with disappointment at the signing of a free trade deal with New Zealand that grants a major exporting nation unfettered access to the UK, threatening sensitive areas like dairy, beef, lamb and horticulture and offers virtually nothing to Scottish farmers, growers and crofters in return.
The UK Government announcement of a free trade agreement with New Zealand, coupled with the Australian deal signed in June 2021, will see the UK potentially open up its borders to huge volumes of imported food, a significant proportion of which will have been produced in systems very different from here.
That threatens the viability of Scottish farmers and crofters at a time when consumer demand for local, sustainably produced Scottish food and drink is growing but food security remains in the spotlight.
NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said:
“Our fears that the process adopted by the UK Government in agreeing the Australia deal would set a dangerous precedent going forward have just been realised.
“Having now signed off on a similar deal to grant unfettered access to New Zealand, another major food exporting nation, the cumulative impact of all such deals on farmers and crofters will be substantial.
“This latest deal offers virtually nothing to Scottish farmers and crofters in return but risks undermining our valuable lamb, beef, dairy and horticultural sectors by granting access to large volumes of imported goods.
“As with the Australian deal, a cap on tariff-free imports is merely a slow journey to allow New Zealand, a major exporter of food and drink, unfettered access to food and drink UK markets.
“We are ambitious to identify and grasp opportunities to build our industry and wider economy and our reputation for world class produce.
“Trade deals could be an enabler of this, but it is going to require investment and collaboration between UK Government and the industry; collaboration which does not exist at present.”