Work Experience MEP Survives "Going From Field to Fork"

11 August 2008
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has completed his work experience programme for 2008. Alyn spends the first two weeks of the European Parliament recess doing different work experience placements in different industries in order to see in the real world the impact of issues he deals with in Brussels.

This year, as Scotland's only full member of the Agriculture Committee, he went from "Field to Fork", experiencing the infrastructure around farming from Shetland to the Borders. His placements this year included:

  • A slaughterman at Macintosh Donald abattoir in Portlethen
  • A trainee vet in Shetland;
  • A volunteer with the North Glasgow Community Food Initiative;
  • An Artificial Insemination technician in Dumfries and Galloway;
  • A stockman on an LFA farm in the Borders; and
  • A biodiesel plant worker with Argent Energy in Motherwell.

Speaking from the office in Edinburgh he said:

"I'm hugely grateful to everyone who looked after me over the last couple of weeks. It has, as always, been a real experience, seeing all airts and pairts of the country as well as the industries around farming.

"We in Scotland have world class agriculture but we sometimes forget that there is a big industry dependent upon the primary production, and I specifically wanted to spend time working around the industry to see the wider implications of EU rules. While nobody could claim to pick up an entire industry in a day I am one of the few politicians who can justly claim to have treated, personally, sheep with scrapie boluses, a cow for mastitis and assisted in the insemination of around 20 cows in Dumfries and Galloway, if nothing else a different perspective than the one I get from my 8th floor office in Brussels!

"The government's Food Policy is beginning to bring into focus the world class asset we have in Scottish food, and the public is becoming more and more interested in where food comes from and how it has been treated. We have a good news story to tell in Scotland and I'm proud of the people I met on my travels and the enthusiasm and loyalty they have for Scottish production.

"There are also some real issues to be addressed in the coming months and years, and my experience this year will strengthen my ideas. It seems clear to me that we could be doing more on animal disease control in Scotland, as well as using public procurement more to boost local production. I know my colleagues in the government are keen to explore ways to boost the sector in Scotland and I will be working with them to achieve this aim."