Following a remarkable 2011 in which food exports from Scotland broke the £1 billion mark for the first time ever, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman visited Scottish farmers and fishermen today to praise them for the excellent produce that has made Scotland world renowned.
During the visit Mrs Spelman also talked to those within the industry about how they would like to see the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy reformed in order to allow for continued success.
Speaking after a meeting with the National Farmers Union Scotland at Stagehall Farm in Stow in Selkirkshire, Caroline Spelman said:
“Scotland’s produce is becoming the envy of the world thanks to the hard work of fishermen, farmers and everyone else involved in food and drink production.
“The success that the industry achieved in 2011 was phenomenal and brought enormous benefits to the economy of not just Scotland but the whole of the UK.
“We must now find a way to make sure that the industry can thrive by reforming the Common Agriculture Policy and Common Fisheries Policy in a way that allows farmers and fishermen to continue to be successful in the future.”
It is estimated that the Scottish food and drink industry generates nearly £10billion a year for the economy and it is imperative that the industry can continue to grow for the benefit of the UK.
The Government has been clear that both the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy are not working and that radical reform is required to ensure that British farmers and fishermen can continue to be successful in the years ahead.
The Secretary of State also visited the Glenkinchie Distillery following the ongoing success of Scotch Whisky exports, which now account for nearly one quarter of all UK food and drink exports and reached a record high of £3.45 billion last year.
Mrs Spelman added:
“I’m delighted that the Scotch Whisky industry is going from strength to strength.
“I know that the industry still faces the challenge of breaking into some major markets abroad such as India and Latin America and I’m keen to do everything I can to support them.”