NFU Scotland congratulates John Swinney on becoming Scotland’s seventh First Minister

Scotlands newly appointed First Minister John Swinney meeting NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy and local farmers following severe flooding in Highland Perthshire in October 2023

NFU Scotland has congratulated John Swinney MSP on becoming Scotland’s seventh First Minister and it looks forward to working with Mr Swinney and his new Cabinet, expected to be announced today.

NFU Scotland has written to Mr Swinney, outlining the key priorities for farmers and crofters and what it believes is needed if we are to have a profitable and sustainable agricultural sector that underpins the future prosperity of Scotland. The Union has also requested an opportunity to meet with the First Minister.

In its letter, NFU Scotland raises issues related to:

  • Economic growth and the shared ambition to avoid a cliff edge for the sector.
  • The Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill.
  • Future multiannual funding and funding allocations.
  • The agricultural budget and return of funds.
  • Active farming and crofting and their role in delivering on biodiversity and climate change needs.
  • Future flood risk management.
  • National Park proposals.

President Martin Kennedy said: “I congratulate John Swinney MSP on his appointment.  He is a politician that NFU Scotland has worked well with both nationally and locally over many years.

“The First Minister, coming from a rural constituency, is well aware that agriculture underpins rural communities across Scotland and is at the heart of flourishing environments. High-quality agricultural production is vital to the wider food and drink industry – a sector that is worth more than £16 billion to the Scottish economy, employs over 130,000 people, and supports Scotland’s national reputation on the world stage.

“We are a remarkable industry committed to high-quality agricultural production, helping to tackle climate change and enhance nature. However, to meet our full potential as a key component in Scotland’s future prosperity, we need to work closely with the new First Minister, the new Cabinet, and the wider Scottish Government to ensure that necessary economic, environmental and social outcomes are delivered.

“On becoming First Minister, Mr Swinney underlined economic growth as a key focus. There is no doubt that the return on investment that agriculture delivers from government funding is impressive.

“Our study of agricultural businesses across Scotland (see: showed that £550 million in public support delivers £3.3 billion in Scottish agricultural output. Thousands of supply chain businesses are supported by farms and crofts the length and breadth of Scotland and high-quality agricultural production is fundamental to the wider food and drink industry.

“However, our sector faces many challenges. We have set out some of these in our letter to the First Minister, alongside solutions, which will help our sector to continue to contribute to the country’s economic growth.  We also need Scottish Government to work with us as we seek to support and incentivise the next generation of Scotland’s farmers and crofters.  We hope to discuss these issues in person with Mr Swinney in the near future.” 

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