BORDERS MP John Lamont recently visited McGregor Farms in Coldstream and held a roundtable with the National Farmers Union of Scotland to discuss the industry’s key concerns.

Farmers stressed the vital importance of keeping the UK market intact and avoiding cross-border variation on regulations at the meetings, which took place in mid-March.

On the discussion with the NFUS delegation, led by Director of Policy Jonnie Hall, John Lamont MP said: "We discussed a number of actions the government has taken to support our growers and farmers, including offering support for energy costs.

“Access to labour is an important issue, and we recently confirmed there would be 45,000 seasonal agricultural worker (SAWS) visas available this year, uplifted by 15,000 on 2022.

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“The industry reaction has been very positive and we want to hear from farmers and growers how well SAWS is operating, as there is the possibility of a further 10,000 visas if required."

"The UK Government takes food security very seriously – it’s important for both producers and consumers.

“We have closely monitored recent issues with egg supplies – I convened a meeting on this topic with producers and retailers – and some fruit and vegetables, owing to poor weather in Spain and North Africa.

“It’s part-and-parcel of our ongoing dialogue with the agriculture sector, who play a vital role in feeding Britons."

On the Coldstream visit he said: "It’s been fascinating to tour the farm here to see for myself the benefits of the precision farming methods McGregor Farms employ, tangible proof of how monitoring and measuring technology can be used to improve soil quality and deliver better yields.

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“I have also heard loud and clear about the importance of the UK internal market and avoiding different rules being applied in various parts of the country.

"That couldn't be more obvious than here in the Borders, where some farms have land in England and in Scotland.

“That’s the perfect example of the importance of the UK Internal Market Act, which prevents barriers to trade between Scotland and England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. UKIM also underpins principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination, which have huge importance to farmers who buy and sell across the UK."

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NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy, Jonnie Hall,said; “We were delighted that John Lamont, Under Secretary of State for Scotland, joined us on-farm recently. 

"It was an ideal opportunity to share our members’ escalating concerns about labour issues, retail shortages, electricity contracts issues and energy support, along with the industry’s need to secure future funding commitments. 

"Scotland’s agriculture is facing huge challenges and it’s important that Governments understand exactly what these are.

"Doing this at the coal face helps highlight and enhance better understanding of the pressures being faced by the industry and also how it can be the driving force behind effectively delivering for both Scotland and the UK given scope to do so.”