Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has accused the Scotland Office of being “asleep at the wheel” and not understanding the dangers to Scotland’s farming industry shown by the aspiration of the current DEFRA Secretary to end direct payments out of the Common Agricultural Policy.
The Scottish National Party raised the issue during Scottish Questions in the House of Commons and said that the Scotland Office Minister David Mundell clearly did not understand the importance of the issue.
Local MP Dr Whiteford says that removing direct payments could put many farms at significant risk and is simply not feasible. The SNP say that such a policy would undermine food production and damage rural communities in areas of significant agricultural activity like Banff & Buchan.
Commenting on the issue, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“The DEFRA Secretary has made clear his view that such payments should cease and matters be left entirely to the market, a view that has been rejected by both the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.
“Such a move would clearly give huge competitive advantage to food producers in other countries and must be ruled out completely.
“Removing direct payments for farm businesses would lead to bankruptcy for many and would be disastrous for economies like Banff & Buchan’s where significant employment and business activity is linked to food production. It would also undermine Scotland’s ability to produce food and safeguard rural communities.
“Agriculture is a vital industry for Banff & Buchan and for Scotland as a whole and the recent scandal over horsemeat has shown the need to have a strong and sustainable farming industry, a fact recognised and consistently pursued by the Scottish Government.
“The attitude of DEFRA illustrates, yet again, the need for Scotland to have the full powers of independence to ensure we have a real voice in Europe to protect our vital interests, rather than DEFRA acting against the interests of Scotland.”