MEP Alyn To Map Out Borders Economy In Major Speech

Leading Scottish MEP Alyn Smith is to visit the Borders next month for a key networking event which will discuss some of the most important issues affecting the local economy.

The SNP member of the European Parliament is to meet opinion formers at the Cross Keys Hotel, Kelso, on November 8 and will deliver a speech on the vital role food production plays in supporting jobs, investment and services.

His lecture, titled Scotland’s Food Producers - Bedrock of our Economy, is being hosted by the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce. It will analyse the importance of agriculture in Scotland and the Borders and how it impacts on the wider economy.

Alyn is regarded as a leading voice in the Scottish Agriculture sector. An MEP since 1999, he is is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, where he is currently helping to reform the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

He is also an Honorary Associate Member of the British Veterinary Association and Honorary Vice President of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And in 2009, he won the coveted Scottish Farmer Magazine award for making an outstanding contribution to Scottish Agriculture.

Alyn said: “I’m delighted to be able to come to this event and talk on a subject which is very close to my heart. Agriculture is at the centre of the rural economy and of course that’s particularly true in the Borders.

“Scotland and the Borders are in the world’s top league when it comes to things like agricultural innovation, animal welfare standards - and, of course, the high quality of our food and drink.

“There’s no doubt that a prosperous agricultural sector drives not just the rural economy, but has a huge impact right across the community and the country. Farmers buy supplies and spend their money locally, so if they’re making profits, everyone benefits.

“By the same token, if times are hard, then that will have an impact on the turnover of other businesses. Cash flow problems in the farmyard ultimately lead directly to issues such as decaying town centres and empty retail units in the High Street.”

That’s why a working, prosperous and efficient countryside is vital to us all. Food production isn’t the only industry in the Borders, but a working countryside has an impact on everyone, which is why it’s vital that it is nurtured and sustained.

“I’ll be addressing all these issues in my speech, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting with all those who come along.”

Jack Clark, Managing Director of auctioneers and livestock agents John Swan Limited and a Director of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re delighted that Alyn Smith has been able to accept our invitation to speak.

“He is the latest in a series of interesting public figures, including former enterprise minister Jim Mather, who have addressed members of the chamber and their guests in recent months.

“As an organisation which has had a renaissance in the Borders of late, it’s great that we are able to attract interesting, high quality speakers talking on issues which are of real relevance to this region.

“Alyn commands huge respect within the Scottish agricultural sector and has a strong reputation for fighting for our interests in Brussels and working hard to support the industry here at home. I’m sure we’ll all gain something from his wisdom and experience.”

* The evening starts at 7pm for 7.30pm and is free for members of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce. Non-members are welcome with a ticket costing £10. For more information, please e-mail communications@borderschamber.com.