Farmers make voices heard at Holyrood

Cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead MSP address the rally outside Holyrood
Cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead MSP address the rally outside Holyrood

Farmers from the north-east have taken to Holyrood to make clear their anger at the Scottish Government’s handling of an industry in crisis.

The frustration is over the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, which has been the victim of a litany of errors.

The rally was organised by the National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) and took place on Thursday, March 10.

The action taken by the union has resulted in a debate on the failings within the CAP delivery taking place in the Scottish Parliament on the same day.

The crowd heard from union president Alan Bowie before being addressed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and Scottish Labour spokesperson Sarah Boyack.

A spokesperson for the NFUS said that the government has let technology get in the way of action.

They said: “A key driver behind the current cash crisis on farms is Scottish Government’s problems delivering support payments to farmers and crofters because of its £180 million investment in a flawed IT system.”

NFUS president Allan Bowie said: “The unanimous message given by Scotland’s leading politicians to us today is they recognise that farming matters.

“We want those words to translate into actions.

“The calamitous delivery of support to the sector is the key contributor to a £300 million black hole in Scotland’s rural economy.

“Politicians must also address our dysfunctional supply chain.

“The reason we came here today is to get recognition that farming does matter and we a food policy that recognises that, as farmers, we are the ones that take the risks to produce this high quality food,” he added.