Smith Supports Gibson on Campaign Trail

19 March 2011

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today (Saturday) joined Highlands and Islands MSP and North candidate Rob Gibson on the campaign trail in Tain.

The SNP duo - who both take a keen and active interest in agricultural affairs - were joined by prominent local farmer, Jim Whiteford, who has recently endorsed Mr Gibson for the 2011 Holyrood elections. Mr Smith and Mr Gibson toured Mr Whiteford's arable farming operation at Shandwick Farm, near Tain, and discussed how a re-elected SNP government would continue to cut the red-tape that has long cost farmers time and money every year. They also reiterated that an SNP Government would maintain farming subsidies, and oppose the drastic an damaging subsidy cuts proposed by Caroline Spelman in Whitehall.

Mr Gibson later hosted a reception in Tain, which was attended by farmers and crofters from across the Highlands.

Mr Gibson said:

"One of the major agricultural achievements of the SNP Government over the past four years is making life easier for farmers. That means cutting rep-tape, and ensuring that the support mechanisms are in place to attract new blood to the industry. Cutting out bureaucracy and reducing unnecessary administration will form a key component of the SNP's farming manifesto, to be published shortly.

"Many farmers and agricultural businessmen who I spoke with today are anxious about the future of their business, especially with the looming cuts coming down the line from Caroline Spelman. Whilst farmers have benefited from Richard Lochhead's recipe for success over the past four years, Spelman's witches' brew threates to undo that progress.

"The SNP has an agricultural record to be proud of, and the farming and crofting community recognise this. We've put rural businesses at the forefront of economic recovery, and agriculture has benefited enormously from that. The Labour party neither care nor understand our farming sector, so a re-elected SNP Government in May is essential to protecting the industry's progress."

Mr Smith added:

"I always enjoy visiting the Highlands and getting out and about on local farms because it gives me an opportunity to find out firsthand what problems our farmers are facing.

"It was a pleasure to visit Jim along with Rob, who has undoubtedly been a farming champion up here in the North.

"This is a crucial time in Brussels with key debates unfolding on the future of Europe's agriculture policy (CAP), reforms to the milk market and legislation due on various aspects of food quality - all of which will impact on our farmers and communities across the Highlands.

"Farmers repeatedly cite the burden of regulation as a key barrier to increased productivity. Farmers are not interested in spending their days sitting inside wading through piles of paperwork when they could be out on the farm and so any legislation that comes out of the ongoing discussions must address this."

Mr Whiteford added:

"I've decided to endorse Rob as our next constituency MSP, because he's done tremendous work to fight for farming in Edinburgh. I don't want to see a Lib Dem MSP let Labour in by the back door, so I've decided it's time to stand up and be counted. This time, I'm voting SNP."