30 July 2016

'DEFRA Secretary Needs Better Understanding of Scottish Farming' - MSP

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has said that the new Secretary of State at DEFRA, defeated Tory leadership challenger Andrea Leadsom, needs a better understanding of Scottish farming.

The MSP was speaking on the eve of Turriff Show, Scotland’s biggest two-day agricultural show following revelations in the farming press that Mrs Leadsom had previously been in charge of the Conservative ‘Fresh Start’ group, which called for a restriction in the size of the EU farm budget and had herself said publicly that such state support should be shaken up or abolished, something she again called for during her recent leadership bid.

Mrs Leadsom is also on record suggesting that those with “big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies”.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Based on this evidence, I have real concerns how Andrea Leadsom – not to mention her Junior Minister, George Eustice, also a backer of the Tory ‘Fresh Start’ group – will stand up for Scottish farming.

“We’re in the very fortunate position in Scotland of having Fergus Ewing as our Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary, who has hit the ground running since his appointment in May, and who undoubtedly has a better understanding of the needs of Scottish farming.

“However, we know that when it comes to European matters, the UK Government has a track record of leaving Scottish representatives outside the door, even if their knowledge and expertise on the subject exceeds that of the UK Minister. It is therefore imperative that Andrea Leadsom gains a better understanding of Scottish farming issues in general and, it would seem, hill sheep farming in particular.”

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