12 September 2018

MSP Warns UK Government Agricultural Bill Will Hit Rural Areas Hardest

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned rural areas will be hardest hit by the UK Government’s Agriculture Bill which was published today.
It comes after the Michael Gove, Cabinet Secretary for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, gave farmers at the Turriff Show assurances that the Scottish Government would be consulted on the bill.

Mr Gove also gave assurances Brexit would not impact farmers in Scotland negatively.

The powers drafted under the bill could potentially see the Scottish Parliament unable to continue to provide coupled support for active beef and sheep farmers and LFASS payments for the toughest farming areas.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Despite assurances the Scottish Government would have contribution to the Agriculture Bill to involve the needs of Scottish farmers, the industry has once again been left in the dark.

“The bill in its current form does not do enough to respect the devolved governments particularly on issues including LFASS payments.

“As the MSP for a rural constituency I am acutely aware of how this bill could impact farmers in the North-East.

“It is not clear whether Scottish farmers would continue to receive the same level of funding as they currently do post-Brexit.

“If the UK Government does not include the views of the Scottish Parliament rural areas like the one I represent are going to be hardest hit.”

9 September 2018

MSP & Councillor Praise Work of Turriff & District Citizens Advice

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and local councillor Alastair Forsyth have both praised the work of the Turriff & District Citizens’ Advice Bureau after attending the organisation’s annual general meeting in Turriff on Friday held in the town’s Baden Powell Centre.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Citizens’ Advice Bureaux across the country do a tremendous service to their local communities and, locally, Manager Morag Fraser and her team do great work in assisting those who need help and advice on a wide range of issues.

“I was pleased to be invited to attend the AGM and hear about the CAB’s perspective on some of the issues raised with them.”

Speaking after the meeting, SNP councillor for Turriff & District Alastair Forsyth said:

“I am very grateful for the outstanding service and expertise provided by Turriff CAB.

“As one of the councillors for the District I benefit from being able to refer constituents to a highly professional organisation with specialism in a variety of disciplines. I am supportive of the Turriff Branch and its outreach work and trust that the service continues to offer this much needed community support service.”

6 September 2018

Tories' Two Fingers to Scotland's Soft Fruit Sector

Scheme Slammed as "Too Little, Too Late" by Industry

The SNP has today expressed its outrage at reports the Tories’ long overdue seasonal agricultural scheme will only allow for an additional 2,500 workers across the whole of the UK when launched.
This is despite the scale of the crisis facing Scottish soft fruit farmers being set out in a letter to Sajid Javid and Michael Gove from 30 rural SNP parliamentarians last month – noting examples of farms leaving tonnes of perfectly good crop to rot in fields at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to individual businesses.

The UK Government promised at the beginning of this year to address the labour shortage quickly, but the reported scheme has already been described as “too little, too late” by one Perthshire grower quoted in the Courier, who added “there is something like 100,000 seasonal workers needed in horticulture – [2,500] is not a very big answer to the problem”.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tories should hang their heads in shame. The industry has been calling for action since the Brexit vote over two years ago and what has been delivered is nothing short of insulting – a two fingered salute to our soft fruit farmers.

“We’ve known for some time that all of Scotland’s fruit and vegetable growers have faced great challenges recruiting labour over the past year, and any government action should have been bold and swift to address the matter head on.

“We need to remember that what is on the line here is people’s livelihoods and jobs. This pitiful solution from the Tories is – in the words of fruit growers themselves – too little, too late.

“It’s time the Scottish Parliament was given the relevant powers over immigration to build a better system which actually works for Scotland and our rural economy.”

2 September 2018

MSP & Cllr meet with National Trust to hear About New Strategy

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Turriff and District SNP councillor Alastair Forsyth met with the National Trust for Scotland yesterday to learn more about its new strategy.
The MSP and councillor visited Fyvie Castle at the invitation of the Trust where they were met by Ian Hawkins, North-east General Manager, who briefed them on the Trust’s new strategy.

The National Trust for Scotland is supported by more than 360,000 members and champions Scotland’s natural, built and cultural heritage.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This was a really informative, interesting and useful discussion with Ian about the work of the National Trust for Scotland.

“Fyvie Castle and the many other castles, houses and gardens in the care of the Trust across the North of Scotland contribute massively to our tourist economy and provide a range of high-quality visitor attractions.

“The Trust has been pivotal in protecting the things that make Scotland special since 1931 when it was founded and I’m confident that it will continue to go forward from strength to strength.”

Cllr Alastair Forsyth added:

“I was delighted to be able to attend this meeting and hear about the National Trust for Scotland’s strategy for the future.

“Ian provided a really interesting insight into the work of the NTS both here at Fyvie and across the North-east. NTS staff and the volunteers who help make the visitor experience do a tremendous job and I am grateful to them for the work they do at Fyvie.”

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