South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Spokesperson for Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has praised the region’s farmers for keeping the country going during the pandemic.
The local MSP said it is now time for the Scottish and UK Governments to work to support them in the midst of national and regional issues, including post brexit support.
Colin was speaking during a visit to Kate and Ed Rowell’s farm in Peebles last month, organised by NFUS. Discussion focussed on the journey to net zero emissions, the lack of a post brexit replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy, trade deals, forestry, the rising costs of supplies and labour shortages.
Colin Smyth said: “It was great to once again see first–hand the fantastic work being done by our region’s farmers and I’d like to thank Kate and Ed at Hundleshope Farm and the local NFUS for taking the time to meet me and discuss some of the issues they, and farmers across the country, are facing.
“Our agricultural sector really stepped up to the mark during the pandemic and worked tirelessly to keep us going, but now it’s time to repay them and ensure that the many issues which are facing the industry are addressed.
“This is a hugely challenging and uncertain time for agriculture and it’s now the turn of both of our Governments to step up to mark with a proper plan to support the sector. Farming is facing a real perfect storm of issues.
“We have just seen a UK trade deal signed with New Zealand that farmers rightly fear could lead to an influx of cheap imports that undercut higher quality Scottish produce.
“It’s five years since the brexit vote, but we still have no clear direction from the Scottish Government on what the new agricultural support scheme will be that replaces the Common Agricultural Policy to assist farmers on the journey to net zero emissions.
“Meanwhile farmers are facing a rise in costs for products such as fertiliser and real challenges around accessing supplies of goods and labour and they need our Governments and Parliaments to show they are the side of agriculture.
“Farming is hugely important to our local economy and we should rightly be proud of the high quality produce delivered week in week out from local farms. We will only have a strong local economy here in the South of Scotland if we have a strong sustainable agriculture sector and that’s why as a local MSP and as my party’s Spokesperson on Rural Affairs, I’m determined to work with local farmers to help deliver that.”