Meeting of the Parliament 09 February 2012
Review of Teacher Employment
Local Government Finance (Scotland) Order 2012 [Draft]
Scottish Executive Question Time
First Minister’s Question Time
Scottish Executive Question Time
Rural Affairs and the Environment
Environmental Issues (Attitudinal Data)
Forestry Development (Upland Grazing Interests)
Environmental Policy (2011 Interim Performance Targets)
The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment (Richard Lochhead): The Scottish Government provides £43 million of support to Scottish dairy farmers each year under the single farm payment scheme. Additionally, the cumulative total amount of support that the Scottish Government has provided under all elements of the Scotland rural development programme since 2007 now stands at £40 million.
Bill Walker: Recently, two farmers in my west Fife constituency of Dunfermline stopped milk production for economic reasons. Does the cabinet secretary agree that, for Scottish farmers to get a fair go at European import markets, a Scottish voice must be heard at all European Union negotiations and discussions, in light of the EU regulations that restrict internal, export and import markets?
Richard Lochhead: That is certainly one area in which it would be helpful for Scotland to have its own voice at the top table in Europe. There are many others, of course, that would also help our dairy farmers. For example, they have taken a close interest for a long time in labelling issues, which are reserved to the UK Government in some contexts and to Europe in others. If we had a voice, we would be able to influence those issues more than we do at present.
There are many other issues, not least the fact that we want to safeguard the single farm payment for the dairy businesses in Scotland that benefit from it. The UK Government would rather that the common agricultural policy budget was slashed, and I note that the Labour Party supported that position in the House of Commons in the past few weeks, which is disappointing. If the single farm payment was not making its way to many dairy businesses in Scotland, they would face severe financial difficulties. We need a voice for Scottish farming in order to protect our exports.
Claudia Beamish (South Scotland) (Lab): There are organic dairy farms in South Scotland that are part of a countrywide organic dairy co-operative. In the international year of co-operatives, what support is available from the Scottish Government specifically for that part of the sector?
Richard Lochhead: The Scottish Government is always keen and willing to support co-operatives in the agriculture and food sectors. Indeed, we have been doing so; a number of funding streams have made their way to the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society, which deals with that matter on behalf of the agricultural sector. There is no doubt whatever that many farmers and primary producers have a lot to gain by working more closely together instead of always competing against one another. We will continue to support such efforts, including the promotion of organic produce, in times ahead.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Enforcement Powers)
Emissions Reductions (2020 Target)
Youth Employment Strategy
Regional Chamber of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and Committee of the Regions (Membership)