WHEN looking to write a piece on the positive case for independence from a farming perspective, it struck me as a slightly odd way to look at the independence of your nation being predicated on anything other than a desire for self-determination.

For me, independence for its own sake is enough. That’s not to say that the concerns people have about the realities of independence should be ignored. However, given the total lack of respect shown to us and our parliamentary group in Westminster, or the fact that we are being governed by a party we absolutely reject, and have our wishes totally ignored around EU membership, perhaps it’s more incumbent on Unionists to persuade us the virtues of staying in the Union.

In 2014, uncertainty was at the centre of the argument delivered by Unionists to those of us employed in agriculture. Farmers, crofters and growers had to choose between the perceived uncertainty of what independence might mean or, the illusion of certainty that the Unionist argument was predicated on. At the centre stood our position within the EU, and whether support for the industry would continue.

I worked hard to persuade those in the profession that independence in 2014 was the right direction for us, but we didn’t quite make it over the line. Given that the deliberately misleading “safe status quo” and EU membership is no longer on the table for Unionists, we now have a far more receptive audience who are willing to listen.

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In 2020 many of the questions from 2014 have been answered. Doubts have given way to unequivocal certainty. It’s clear there is a bleak future for the farming industry.

We are to be governed by Westminster Tories stripping back devolved powers, while clearly and deliberately steering us in the No-Deal Brexit direction. Their much vaunted “free to make trade deals around the world” mantra may sound uplifting, but at what cost to Scotland’s farmers, and our food standards?

It seems certain our industry is to be nothing more than a bargaining chip to play in the roulette wheel of trade deals. Early noises from across the Atlantic don’t bode well, and that’s just a start.

But there is a different path that Scottish independence can take us to. A realistic, justifiable and achievable path, and the arguments for taking it are stronger than ever.

The UK Government’s determination to subsume our brand into a Rule-Brittanian myopathy is damaging, reckless, and inhibiting to our ability to thrive

Imagine the possibilities of a farming industry that has an international reputation for excellence and quality.

Imagine if your brand was globally and instantly recognisable and respected by simply having a saltire on it.

Imagine your government looked at you as a valuable and integral part of what made the nation successful and served the nutritional needs of its people.

Imagine Scotland as a global icon of the highest quality food and drink to supply at home and around the world.

Imagine if your fellow Scots recognised the value to our landscape, our environment, and our larder that you deliver.

The question we have to ask is, why imagine it, when we can actually just live it?

In an independent Scotland, any government of any political persuasion will recognise the value of the farming and food and drink sector to our economy and our national wellbeing. Regardless of politics, that’s just a fact.

The realities are that food and drink, underpinned by our farming industry, is the fastest growing and most ambitious sector in our economy.

We know that the Westminster plans for a new support system is time-limited and will no longer exist in 7 years. It’s a policy geared towards access and environmental safeguards, which we in Scotland are already years ahead of.

It’s a policy that gives no mention of food production, which should be at the heart of our purpose and our marketing for Scotland as a food destination.

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The Scottish government plans are far more geared towards allowing farms to continue to grow world-class food while protecting and enhancing our already world beating environmental standards.

The most fragile and marginal areas, home to our crofters and hill folk, are dearly valued in Scotland. These folk keep our most remote areas safe from depopulation, a clear aim of EU support, fervently pursued by our Scottish government, and yet, no such system of support will be available from Westminster.

The Scottish Government has not got everything right, and there are still areas we need to challenge, but we do know that they are listening and will usually try to meet us at least half way.

Our food and drink sectors ambition can be clearly read in Scotland Food and Drinks Ambition 2030 document.

It’s a blueprint for making the food and drink sector an industry worth £30 billion by year 2030, and employing 1 million people.

That’s an ambition to be proud of and driven towards with the kind of determination and government backing which the industry’s “ fastest growing sector” accolade was achieved by in the first place.

There is still work to do in making sure the farming community gets a decent share of that success, but with a government who understands its value, as an industry we can look at the ambition with a confidence and desire to be part of something brilliant.

But, our unique Scottish brand must, must, must be protected at all costs, to allow this ambition to flourish.

The UK Government’s determination to subsume our brand into a Rule-Brittanian myopathy is damaging, reckless, and inhibiting to our ability to thrive.

Again, we are already years ahead in building the global reputation for quality trust and excellence that Brand Scotland, depicted by the Saltire, gives us. We risk it at our peril and future prosperity.

We can choose the uncertainty that remaining in Brexit Britain gives us, with its careless disregard to the value of supporting farmers and its determination to obliterate our Brand Scotland global success. Or we can choose to control our own future

We will be out of the transition period in less than 100 days. Our trading relationships for our Agri products to the EU will be closed or prohibitively tarriffed, and we will wait to see what new hell will be visited on the industry by UK/ US/NZ/Aus trade deals. Deals that will be determined by those countries selling us agricultural products, so we can sell them financial services.

Food safety standards for what America imports to the UK will not be trumped by the UK desire to secure a trade deal, as was demonstrated by the voting down of the Parish amendment in the new UK Agriculture Bill.

But we have a choice.

We can choose the uncertainty that remaining in Brexit Britain gives us, with its careless disregard to the value of supporting farmers and its determination to obliterate our Brand Scotland global success. Or we can choose to control our own future.

That’s a future where farming families are valued, where support is protected because it’s recognised as being for everyone’s benefit.

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Where environmental considerations are sustained, but not at the expense of growing world class foods.

Where our industry can rightly feel proud of its role in society, and society is proud of our industry.

Where our ambition is matched by our government’s determination for us to succeed, and by protecting our world class reputation.

By ensuring we vehemently protect our brand so that together we can grow and flourish in the way we know we can.

There are two visions of the future facing us right now, and Scotland’s farmers are looking at both.

This time, the lies threats and scaremongering have all been used up, so it’s up to us now to take our responsibility and our opportunity, to be an independent country.

Jim Fairlie is a first generation farmer, the founder of Scotland's first farmers market, and co-founder of Farmers for Yes.

If you would like to contribute to this new series on how Scottish independence can benefit your area, be that geographic, like Harris, Annan, or Perth, or societal, like older people, retirees, or hospitality, you can do so here.