20 October 1998
Lib-Dems come out fighting on farming

JAMIE STONE, Liberal-Democrat Scottish agricultural spokesman, urged Donald Dewar to stand up to the “Iron Chancellor” and seek financial aid for the countrys farmers.

Mr Stone, speaking at an emergency debate during the partys one day conference, said there was an agreed European Union-Treasury mechanism to pay out compensation.

Charles Kennedy, the partys Westminster spokesman on agriculture, launched a personal attack on Scottish Office agriculture minister Lord Sewel. He said he was completely unsympathetic to the needs, interests and aspirations of rural Scotland generally.

He urged the minister to apply for the £160 million-worth of European Union funding available to compensate farmers for devaluations of the Green Pound.

Joan Mitchell, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Dumfries and Galloway Council, doubted whether it would be possible to compete on the world market with the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

She said the other option was the European model, which recognised that farming had certain social and environmental as well as production objectives. She warned: “You cannot just shut down the countryside. Farming needs to be re-integrated into the general rural community.”

  • The Herald 20/10/98 page 26