Politics

Nicola Sturgeon torn apart as Scotland’s farmers ‘are being let down’

SNP & Green party 'not taking food security seriously' says Carson

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Conservative MSP Finlay Carson took a brutal dig at Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet over the lack of details of their agriculture bill. Relaying the message of Scottish farmers, MSP Finlay said last week’s rally outside Holyrood should have been a wake-up call for the SNP/Greens coalition. Despite growing calls for the Scottish Government to offer more support, “our farmers are still being let down”, Mr Carson tweeted.

After the SNP’s MSP Mairi Gougeon made her statement on the future of agricultural support, Conservative MSP Finlay Carson said: “I welcome mention of food security in the statement. 

“It’s critical that we get food security right due to the war in Ukraine. 

“But the SNP/Green coalition are not taking food security seriously enough with little or no clarity provided in their agricultural bill proposals. 

“And there is certainly no near enough within this statement.”

The Conservative MSP took aim at Mairi Gougeon, which he said, did nothing to iron out the problems at stake.

He said: “This statement does nothing to address the total lack of clarity with regard to payments, raising more questions than answers in the vacuum of information which already exists. 

“We’re all tired of hearing this Government saying more details will be forthcoming. 

“Did the SNP/Green Government learn nothing from last week’s rally when farmers expressed their concerns outside this Parliament?

“When will they prioritise our farmers and our food security?” Mr Carson asked.

The Scottish Government launched an open consultation on the the forthcoming agriculture bill in late August, calling on farmers to take part in discussions over the piece of legislation.

Amid the war in Ukraine and galloping inflation, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon insisted Nicola Sturgeon’s Government would support farmer to produce more high quality and sustainable food. 

“The fact is that high quality food production is very much a part of meeting our net zero targets and dealing with the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss,” she said. “We have ambitious targets and right across the agriculture sector we have the talent and skills to meet our aims.”

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But her call to cooperation to farmers was met with protests from more than 400 farmers and crofters who rallied outside Scotland’s Parliament to demand more support amid rising costs fuelled by inflation.

The rally, held at the same time Scotland’s farmers were being consulted on a future agricultural policy, was spearheaded by the National Farmers Union (NFU), which deplored a “lack of recognition of our industry and all it delivers” which is “unacceptable and fails to acknowledge the urgent need to address the worsening food security crisis”.

Speaking after the event, NFU’s Scotland president Martin Kennedy said: “Farmers and crofters have delivered a clear message that any new policy created by the proposed new Agriculture Bill must put food production front and centre when it comes to delivering all the economic, social, and environmental benefits that all agricultural businesses will be asked to provide.

“At a UK level, we have taken our eye off the ball on energy and look at the mess we have got ourselves into. We cannot repeat that same mistake with food or the food and cost of living crisis we are all currently enduring will simply get worse.”

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