Union starts 2020 on sound financial basis

Scott Walker, NFUS chief executive.

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NFU Scotland is entering 2020 on a healthy financial footing with membership growing again for a third year in a row.

Publication of its annual accounts for 2019 shows income is up by £61,000 on last year with subscriptions accounting for nearly all the increase. Affinity income generated from the range of exclusive member services and discounts remains strong at £145,000 (2018 – £146,000).

Expenditure at NFUS in 2019 was up £176,000 at £3.2 million, a reflection of the additional activity undertaken in 2019 (2018 – £3.0 million) leaving an operating deficit this year of £109,200. Investment income and unrealised gains means NFUS ended with a net surplus before tax of £110,500 compared to £42,600 in 2018. As a result, the balance sheet remains strong with net assets increasing by £91,000 to £3.06 million.

Farming, crofting and professional membership at financial year end was 8,366, up from 8,315 at the same time last year, an increase of 51.

Last year, the union launched its family membership. As part of an existing membership, at no cost, it gives any family member who is actively involved in the farm business the opportunity to be recognised as a member of NFUS. The union now has 368 family members, 60 percent of which are women. That takes NFUS total membership to 8734.

This year, recognising the way that many people now access information and the demand to be kept informed on key issues, it has launched an NFU Scotland phone app – available to download to iPhone through the Apple App Store. The new app will give everyone all the latest news from NFU Scotland, special offers from its affinities team and an ability to read the views and opinions of the experts through its blogs and award-winning Farming Leader magazine.

NFUS chief executive Scott Walker said: ‘NFU Scotland exists to lobby.  We are here to bring pressure to bear on policy makers and commercial organisations to gain favourable outcomes for Scotland’s farmers and crofters to achieve a sustainable and profitable future for Scottish agriculture.

‘To achieve this, we need to be underpinned by a robust financial base to give us the resources to employ the right people to be the advocates for the industry and to do all the activities that will make a difference.

‘I set a goal a few years back to grow affinity income and to return an amount equal to the value of subscriptions back to our members in the form of discounts on goods. We have achieved that for the second year in a row.

‘We have again ploughed back our surplus into growing the activities we do.  We have created a new climate change policy manager post alongside a new rural business policy adviser, and we will continue to strengthen our lobbying activities.’