Orkney NFU AGM
By Nick Morrison
The Orkney NFU AGM and Branch meeting was held at The Ayre Hotel Wednesday evening. It was a well attended meeting chaired by David Scarth.
David gave a brief “State of the Nation” report on Orkney’s farming activities and challenges supported by Kenny Slater the Branch Secretary. Covering stock prices and the difficult land and weather conditions experienced by some farmers. This led to difficulty in getting the barley in for example. The weather did not appear to adversely affect lambing much this year.
The Branch had a full year of visits by VIP’s and of visits by Branch members to various venues.
Currently the branch has 274 members.
The Election of officers then took place at a fast pace. All officers were reelected apart from a couple who were standing down. Including David Scarth as Chairman and Kenny Slater as Secretary. That concluded the AGM part of the meeting.
The branch meeting then opened with presentations from NFUS CEO Andrew McCornick and the President Scott Walker. Between them they outlined the difficult challenges facing farming like late payment of Support Payments and Brexit. The support payments late arrival was due in part to the fragmented way it was organized. The NFUS has regular meetings at Westminster and Holyrood putting the Scottish Farming industry’s position. One of their points that is well received is “that for every £1 spent on farming £5s are generated for the economy”.
Last year for the first time they went to the Party Conferences to lobby for the Industry’s position.
There was, unsurprisingly, much discussion about the closure of the Abattoir. Some practical and workable solutions were aired. Building a new plant is tentatively costed at £ 1.5 million. A significantly cheaper option was to cut the floor area down to a third to reduce running costs . OIC could then rent out the other 2/3rds. This would cost around £0.5 Million. A Lady farmer pointed out that Orkney would lose all of its accreditation for premium quality meats. Part of the problem is that the OIC employee who was responsible for maintenance retired and has not been replaced. Another suggestion is to invite the successful and economically viable Shetland abattoir people here to see if we can do likewise.