EU Agriculture Delegation Comes To "Showcase Scotland"

23 February 2009
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee has today previewed the visit of a top level delegation from the Committee coming to Scotland to see leading edge examples of Scottish rural best practice, discuss reform of the CAP and LFA, as well as discuss the ongoing controversy on individual identification of sheep.

Smith fears that the ID proposals could see a reduction by as much as half of Scotland's national flock if they are actually implemented as they stand.

The 15 strong delegation will be in Scotland from this coming Wednesday afternoon to Friday evening and will, in a novel twist, be taken out of their warm offices in Brussels up to Glenfernate in Highland Perthshire to see for themselves just what the implications of individual ID of sheep are in Scotland. Meetings are also scheduled with the Rural Affairs Committee in Holyrood as well as the relevant government ministers to press the Scottish view of rural reform in the EU. The industry and research community in Scotland will also have the opportunity to impress upon the delegation the cutting edge best practice we have ongoing in Scotland as well as the industry view on reforms underway in Brussels.

Smith said:

"Nobody else will make Scotland's case for us, and I have been just delighted with the response we have had from Scotland's rural stakeholders and the government when we managed to get the delegation here.

"Scotland's rural communities are integral to our nation, and if you are looking for examples of best practice in EU terms, you name it we have it. We have a real stake in discussions currently underway in Brussels which will fundamentally reform how the EU supports agriculture, and everything to gain from influencing those discussions at an early stage. Recent bloody noses on pesticides reform as well as the vexed issue of individual sheep ID, agreed to by the UK government way back in 2001, show that if Scotland is not in the discussions early we risk being adversely impacted by the end results.

"The delegation will meet a who's who of Scottish rural life, with leaders from NFU, NSA, SAC, SCRI, SRPBA, the government, the parliament and countless others all turning out to make Scotland's case. We will, of course, be able to utilise Scots hospitality to ensure our guests enjoy their trip as well.

"The delegation is genuinely top level, and I have no doubt that there will be plenty of spirited debate. But what is clear already is that we in Scotland are constructive, not uncritical, partners in EU reform, where the London view of agriculture looks increasingly odd, and out of step with mainstream thinking."

The programme of the Delegation is as below -

WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY

14:30 - 16:00 - Visit of Yester Farm Dairies. Organised by the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association. Tour of the dairy farm which produces milk and cheese products with time for questions.

17.30 - 18.30 - Joint meeting with the Committee on Agriculture and Environment of the Scottish Parliament

19:00 - 20:00 - Meeting with Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for Environment Committee Room 2.

20:30 - Dinner in Edinburgh Castle. Roseanna Cunningham (Minister for Environment) and Richard Lochhead (Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment).

THURSDAY 26 FEBRUARY

11:00 - 14:00 - Visit to Glenfernate Hill Sheep Farm. Organised by National Sheep Association. John Mclellan will give a short talk on how the farm operates followed by a 4x4 trip out onto the hillside with various stop offs along the way.

16:30 - 17:30 - Visit to the Scottish Crop Research Institute

20:00 - Dinner hosted by National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).

FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY

09:00 - 10:30 - Visit to Moredun Research Institute, Penicuik, Midlothian.

10:30 - 11:00 - Press Conference