Scottish Government acts to support local economy

SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Aileen McLeod has today (Thursday) welcomed the announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead a package of measures to support Scottish farming, food production, rural communities and the environment.
The measures will help to mitigate the impact of severe reductions in the single farm payment, target support at active farmers as well as supporting the beef industry to innovate.
Aileen asked a question following the statement on the importance of support for the beef sector, which local NFU representatives in Dumfries & Galloway had highlighted only last week as being particularly vulnerable to the CAP reform funding cuts.
Aileen said:
“The Cabinet Secretary faced the impossible situation of making the best of the worst CAP settlement of any country in Europe. The Westminster Government has handed us a settlement which risks delivering real damage to Scottish agriculture and to the fragile rural economy of region’s such as Dumfries & Galloway.
“However Richard Lochhead has done everything in his power to mitigate the worst impact of the dramatic budget cuts rural Scotland faces. He has targeted the available support at active farmers, who contribute greatly to the rural economy. He has ensured that changes will be phased in over 5 years to give farmers time to change their business models and acclimatise to the situation.
“Importantly for Dumfries & Galloway he has announced a £45 million improvement scheme for the beef sector, which will run for the next three years and the details of which will be determined by Jim McLaren’s expert working group.
“Of course, if Scotland had already been an independent country during the last round of CAP talks, we would have received an additional €1 billion in direct farm support and been able to join other countries in negotiating an uplift of hundreds of millions of euros in our rural development budget which helps our rural communities.
“The Scottish Government has done the best it can under very difficult circumstances and with limited powers. It drives home the need for an independent Scotland to have our own seat at the top table in Europe for the next CAP negotiations. Only a Yes vote on the 18th of September will deliver that.”
Notes to Editors:
Richard Lochhead’s statement to the Scottish Parliament can be found here:
Aileen’s question and Mr Lochhead’s answer are below:
Aileen McLeod (South Scotland) (SNP): The cabinet secretary will be aware that Dumfries and Galloway has 20 per cent of the national beef herd, which is of particular importance to the region. Can he offer further detail on how pillar 2 will support improving the efficiency and sustainability of the sector, particularly in Dumfries and Galloway?
Richard Lochhead: Dumfries and Galloway will, I hope, gain from some of the measures that we have decided to adopt since the consultation document was published.
The Dumfries and Galloway area is of course extremely important to the beef and dairy sectors, which is why we have put such substantial resources into pillar 2 for the beef improvement package. I expect that many of Scotland’s big beef areas such as Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland and the north-east of Scotland will significantly benefit from this £45 million investment in the future of Scotland’s beef industry.