Gentleman farmer Jack now in hiding from farmers?

Boris Johnson 'may hope EU leaders sympathise over unfair Brexit extension'  | Shropshire Star
 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

From SNP Media:

The SNP has said Alister Jack must ‘fight back or resign’ over the damaging Tory trade deal with Australia, which threatens the future of Scottish farmers and crofters.

In a letter today, Ian Blackford MP urged the Tory Scottish Secretary to “break your deafening silence” on the issue and lead an urgent fightback against a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal, which would undercut the price and standards of Scottish beef and lamb – putting Scottish farmers out of business. 

The SNP Westminster Leader said the issue was of such importance to farming communities in Scotland that the Scottish Secretary must be ready to resign in protest if the deal goes through against Scotland’s will.

In a statement released on Friday, NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker warned: “To be crystal clear, an Australian Free Trade (FTA) agreement, with no tariffs or quotas on sensitive products, will put some Scottish farmers and crofters out of business and set a precedent that all other countries looking for free access to the UK market in the future will be desperate to replicate. No consultation has been had with NFU Scotland on such a proposal and any such transition would be wholly unacceptable to Scottish farmers and crofters. Regardless of whether unfettered access on sensitive products like beef or lamb is offered now or in 15 years’ time, the impact on family farms would be devastating.”

It comes as, Australia’s biggest beef exporter predicted it could increase UK sales by tenfold under a zero tariff, zero quota trade deal of the kind being proposed by the Tory government. Separately, Downing Street refused to rule out reducing standards to allow hormone beef imports.

Text of the letter:

Dear Secretary of State,

The continued uncertainty surrounding the prospect of your government signing up to a post-Brexit trade deal, which would grant tariff free access to Australian farmers, is a source of deep and growing concern for our own farming and crofting communities. This morning’s speculation of a UK government offer to phase in a zero-tariff, zero quota regime over a number of years could, in effect, place a time limit on the future of farming livelihoods across these islands. Given that this speculated offer is currently only a negotiating position, the real threat exists that an already disastrous deal for farmers can only get worse.  

Such a trade deal would represent a bitter betrayal of rural communities, undermining and undercutting our agricultural sector and would amount to a genuine threat to future viability. As you should know, Scotland’s farmers and crofters would be disproportionately impacted by such a damaging deal, with our beef, dairy, sheep and grain sectors particularly at risk. There is also the added concern that a deal of this nature will set a precedent for other trade deals, which would further harm our agricultural sector.  

It is disgraceful that these negotiations on a zero-tariff deal have deliberately excluded the UK nations whose farming communities have most to lose from any agreement. The Scottish Government has been denied any involvement in these discussions, they have not been consulted and haven’t been told about the basis of any of these negotiations.  The same is true of the Welsh government, who have raised similar concerns on behalf of their own rural communities. 

I note that the prospect of this deal has stirred reports of a split in the UK Cabinet, with the DEFRA Secretary and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster both mentioned as expressing concerns. Given the damage any such deal would inflict on Scottish farmers and crofters, the glaring absence of any statement or signal of your own concerns is deeply concerning. 

In February of this year, you told the AGM of the National Farmers Union of Scotland that,

“…. I can assure you that your voice is heard at the very highest levels of the United Kingdom Government. This helps to make sure that UK Government policy in agriculture continues to benefit Scotland.”

If this statement is to have any effect, relevance or truth, then it now falls on you to stand by Scotland’s farmers and crofters and robustly oppose a deal that threatens to put them out of business. I urge you to break your deafening silence on this crucial issue and fight back against this damaging deal. That means opposing any trade deal that will, at any future point, grant tariff-free, zero quota access to Australian lamb and beef. Given the seriousness and scale of this issue for Scotland’s farmers and crofters, it is also clear that your only credible option is to make clear that this is a resigning matter should your views be ignored in Cabinet. 

I look forward to hearing your response.   

Yours sincerely,

Ian Blackford MP 

SNP Westminster Leader


12 thoughts on “Gentleman farmer Jack now in hiding from farmers?

  1. Alas, I suspect all the Tory Cabinet “gentlemen farmers” will see this as a great opportunity to EXPAND their land holdings.
    After all, unlike REAL farmers, they don’t need a return from farming (though there will be a package of subsidies— just designed for them) as they live off their City dosh–perhaps a wee brown envelope or two dropping from a passing Oligarch (two tickets to Mustique and some “wallpaper” lucre ).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think gavinochiltree has just matched another piece of the Brexit jigsaw. Crushing the small farmers follows the United States agribusiness policies and makes lowering standards easier.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. gavinochiltree
    You have banged the nail firmly on the head
    Why because in the collapse of land prices due to the Banks (run by Tories ) who will foreclose and call in all loans and overdrafts
    Then A.Jack and his merry band of robbers move in, buy up at ridiculous prices,sit back and await relevant market
    And legislation changes that rapidly more than doubles the value of their ill gotten gains
    Cash in by selling off only the least favourable land holdings they have and keep the bright shiny diamonds amongst the bucket of broken glass they have created in their smash and grab raids
    None other than another Highland clearances but this time over the whole of Scotland
    Tis the Clearer,s that must be cleared this time round
    We are NOT a colony to rape and plunder
    One way or another it is all of the peoples of Scotland to whom this ground we stand upon belongs

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ps. Not sure what Scotland can do other than secure independence, and with half the people dithering, that’s not going to happen until the Tories have actually damaged Scotland beyond repair. The Tories are going to thieve more of Scotland’s land aren’t they. That’s not what they told the people of Scotland in 2014, but it’s what anyone who doesn’t trust one hair on any Tory’s head, knew back then. Very depressing.


      2. Artyhetty . . . . Blackford isn’t expecting a reaction from the Tories due to his letter. The intended audience is Scottish Farmers and the wider community.


  3. Look , most farmers in Scotland are tories , the harm of a trade deal that puts Scottish producers out of business is to the rest of us who live in Scotland and would be at the mercy of the importers , a newly independent Scotland would have difficulty getting produce if it has to come from Australia or New Zealand via england, as things stand at the moment so much of our imports already come via england we dont want to allow westminster to weaken Scotlands economic ability in the lead up to independence because make no mistake they will use it against us and they will cut off supply chains.
    Shortages affect votes.


  4. Rather ironic Iain Blackford asking Alister Jack to ‘fight back or resign’. Where was the ‘fight back or independence’ in response to “Scotland will not be dragged out of the EU against our will”?


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