Agriculture MEP Welcomes NFU Manifesto

16 April 2009
Alyn Smith MEP, Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has pledged to implement 100% of the National Farmers Union's European election manifesto, which was launched yesterday in Brussels.

The manifesto highlights a number of issues of concern to Scottish farmers, including CAP reform, food labelling, less burdensome regulation, and the reform of the Less Favoured Area scheme. Smith has already worked closely with the NFU and Scottish farmers on every one of the issues raised in the manifesto and has a solid track record of getting results for Scotland's farmers.

Speaking after the launch and having digested the document, Smith said:

"If anything, the NFU is being a bit restrained, and can expect more from Scotland's representatives in Europe than the warms words and vague promises this document invites. It does not read like anything drafted at Ingliston. It will hardly be difficult for all aspiring MEPs to commit to bluster against "bad regulation", the question is whether they will follow through when the devil will be, as it always is, in the detail.

"However, my simple answer to the NFU Manifesto is: "Aye, I'll do all of it, and more besides."

"I'm glad that there is agreement about the way forward for Scottish and European agriculture, and pleased SNP policy chimes so well with the aims of NFU in this election, if only our friends south of the border could vote for us! Regardless of whether the Lisbon Treaty comes into effect, it seems likely that one way or the other the European Parliament will gain co-decision powers in agriculture in the new parliament, and thus it is vital that Scottish farming is represented by credible individuals. Since joining the Agriculture committee just over two years ago I've worked hard on issues like mandatory country of origin labelling; ensuring that CAP reform does not discriminate against Scottish farmers; transport rules; fallen stock regs; Brazilian beef imports; animal by-products; and can say hand on heart I have led the campaign against the individual identification of sheep agreed to by the UK government years ago but now clearly hugely damaging if implemented.

"I'm particularly pleased to see that the NFU have drawn attention to a number of issues on which the Scottish Government have been active, such as working to restore fairness to the supply chain, and on encouraging farmers to capitalise on the opportunities provided by the transition to a low carbon society. Even tomorrow SNP Spring Conference will debate a measure to introduce a Scottish labelling scheme to encourage consumers to buy Scottish and local, helping our farmers in difficult times.

"I've worked closely with Scottish farming organisations during my mandate: I have led several delegations of Scottish farmers to the Commission to discuss issues like individual ID of sheep, and have guided a delegation of the Agriculture Committee through Scotland to give them a better understanding of the issues facing Scottish agriculture. It's been a privilege working with them, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue our close relationship after the elections."