Friday 11th November
A farmer returning his sheep to the hill in Glen Fruin.
By Bill Heaney
A failure to deliver a new agriculture payments framework is deterring investment in the farming industry, Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton complained today.
And he criticised major parts of the Scottish Government’s agriculture policy.
Cole-Hamilton was invited on the visit alongside the party’s agriculture spokesperson Claire Mclaren MSP after attending NFU Scotland’s #FoodNeedsAFarmer campaign rally outside the Scottish Parliament.
The rally was designed to highlight the need for farmers, crofters and food producers to be at the heart of Scotland’s new agricultural policy.
A forthcoming Agriculture Bill is expected to deliver a new framework for the industry.
A proud farmer shows his prize cattle at the Drymen agricultural show.
NFU Scotland have repeatedly criticised Scottish Ministers for an “information vacuum” over future policy and support schemes.
They have also appealed for urgent action to address the “worsening food security crisis” with proper recognition of food production in Scotland.
Cole-Hamilton said: “Over the past six months I have criss-crossed the country from highland shows to farming communities in the Borders.
“What is clear to me is that the Scottish Government’s failure to deliver a fresh agriculture framework is deterring investment and innovation and undermining confidence within the sector.
“Farmers feel like the deck is stacked against them. Even when the government makes big promises, the reality never stacks up.
“SNP ministers announced with great fanfare that agricultural support payments for the year would be delivered early.
“In practice this only applied to a handful of payments, with many more farmers waiting as long or in some cases, even longer than last year. Yet again the SNP over promise and under deliver.
“Even if they were delivered early, these payments are no substitute for the urgent clarity needed on future funding and policy.
“The quality of Scottish produce is recognised worldwide but it needs a government commitment to match”.
Farmers’ day out at the Drymen Agricultural Show. Top of page picture: It’s a tough job feeding sheep in Glen Fruin high above Helensburgh.