SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has warned that the Tory Government’s assault on devolution poses a significant threat to Dumfries and Galloway’s food sector.
The amendments published last week to Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill could prevent the Scottish Parliament from legislating to protect farming, food standards, plant health and the environment for up to seven years, fundamentally undermining the devolution settlement.
This follows a statement from the president of America’s National Farmers’ Union last week supporting the view that chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef should be part of a UK/US free trade deal.
Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“Food and Drink production are vital to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway – and as we have seen through the ongoing battle to save Pinneys of Annan – the Scottish Government needs as much power to protect the sector as possible.
“Lowering food standards in Dumfries and Galloway is not only a public health risk, it will tarnish Scotland’s reputation for high quality produce and put our food producers at a competitive disadvantage.
“The amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill are wholly inadequate. The legislation still represents an assault on devolution, enabling the Tories to do whatever they want to Dumfries and Galloway’s food industry and get away with it.
“These amendments would take powers over farming support, plant health, food standards and the environment away from the Scottish Parliament for seven years. The Bill as it stands would allow the Tories to dictate policy on key issues, like funding for farming and environmental rules without Scotland having a say or the power to prevent harm being done to the interests of Dumfries and Galloway.
“Our food and drink sector in the region is a huge success, built on the quality of produce like our countless quality dairy products; Galloway Beef or Scottish salmon.
“That provenance of product is key to our export success and we cannot let cheap US imports, enabled by this Tory Government, undermine that.
“Michael Gove has repeatedly refused to guarantee that his Government won’t impose frameworks on Scotland that could force these second-rate products onto our supermarket shelves, and we need to take a stand against this.”
US farmers say chlorine-washed chicken should be part of a UK free trade deal. These products are banned in the EU in the interests of public health.