FORWARD WITH SCOTLAND, FORWARD WITH FARMING
Monday, 27 July 2015 14:15
MSP champions national conversation on the future of Scottish agriculture
Falkirk East MSP and member of the Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Angus MacDonald, has welcomed the announcement by Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, that a National Discussion on the future of Scottish farming is to be launched next week. The Scotland-wide conversation commencing at the Turriff Show on the 3rd of August will enable members of the public to have their say and quiz the Cabinet Secretary about his long-term vision for agricultural development.
Some senior industry representatives are set to join Mr. Lochhead's panel on the tour. They include National Farming Union of Scotland Vice-President, Andrew McCornick, Quality Meat Scotland Chair, Jim McLaren, and Sarah Allison, Chair of the Scottish Association of Young Farmer Clubs, Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Mr. Lochhead commented, “I have a vision for a more productive, innovative, profitable and green future for Scottish farming and now is the ideal time to consider how we might best achieve that. That is why I recently launched a discussion document on the Future of Scottish Agriculture with the aim of prompting conversations across Scotland about what we want farming to look like in this country and what we need to do to deliver this vision. It is crucial that everyone with an interest in agriculture - including people who live in rural communities as well as those who work in the sector - are able to have their say".
NFU Scotland Vice-President Andrew McCornick stressed that the day-to-day job of farmers in itself is very "challenging and it can be difficult to look further ahead than next week, next month or next year, but...that is exactly what we want our members to do. If our successful food and drink sector is to continue to thrive, then it will require farmers to produce more from the land in Scotland. That needs a vision built on production and ensuring that we get the best price possible for what we produce...We encourage NFU Scotland members to take time to engage with Cabinet Secretary and look forward to positive discussions on the future of Scottish agriculture".
Hailing from a farming and livestock vocational background himself, Angus MacDonald is in pole position to support the Scottish Government-led tour. The Falkirk East MSP concurred with the Vice-President of NFU Scotland on the need for those involved in agriculture to be innovative and encourage the next generation to continue farming and build on what has already been achieved.
Mr. MacDonald exhorted, "It is key that we aim high and put Scottish farming firmly at the forefront of government planning. Strong leadership and fresh ideas in this sector are essential. It is for this reason that I applaud the launch of a national conversation which will engage farming practitioners with politicians and industry experts with other interested parties. Proactive dialogue will help generate the informed synergy necessary to drive this important part of our national life and economy forward and make the most of Scotland's rural landscape".
He added, "I look forward to becoming actively involved with this process and seeing the positive energy generated at Monday's Turriff Show launch produce a ripple effect throughout the country and in my own constituency in the Falkirk district - a historic hub of livestock auctioneering and agricultural development. In order to get farming for future generations right is it of pivotal importance, as the Cabinet Secretary pointed out, that we see the momentum of this discursive tour continue around kitchen tables and over the farm gate as well as at industry meetings and government conferences".