Wed 6 May, 2020

Subsidies need to be used wisely to protect our future and make sure everyone has access to healthy, fresh and affordable food. Mark Ruskell

Support for farmers after EU funds have been withdrawn must reflect the challenges Scotland faces as a country, the Scottish Greens have said.

Speaking as parliament debated the future of farming in Scotland after Brexit as part of the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill stage 1 proceedings, Scottish Green Mark Ruskell said the sector needed to be supported to address the climate emergency and protect the food chain in the COVID-19 crisis.

Mark Ruskell said: “As extreme weather conditions hit Scotland with more regularity, farmers are already feeling the worst impact of the climate emergency. At the same time, the current public health crisis has exposed how fragile our food chain is.

“That’s why it is vital that the way farming is subsidised needs to reflect the urgent needs of our country. Scottish Government commitments to yet more consultations isn’t rapid enough when we are facing a climate emergency. The National Farmers Union have already engaged with the need for change and have called for more urgency.

“After Chris Stark of the Committee on Climate Change called the Scottish Government’s plans for the sector ‘half baked’, we’ve seen little evidence of any greater haste on agriculture reform. That cannot wait.

“Similarly, the Good Food Nation Bill, which pledged the embed a right to food into Scots law, has been kicked into the long grass yet again, at a time when the current pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in our food system.

“Subsidies need to be used wisely to protect our future and make sure everyone has access to healthy, fresh and affordable food. The Scottish Government must coordinate its approach and act, before it’s too late.”

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