14 January 2000

Scotland in parliament petitioning

MORE than 1000 farmers from across Scotland petitioned the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, asking politicians to help them in their fight for the industrys survival.

Scottish NFU leader Jim Walker, who was delighted that so many had taken the time to travel to the capital, then presented eight petitions for action to the parliament – one from each of the unions main committees.

The common theme was the need for fair play, with the union urging the parliament to back its demands for compensation to counter the effect of the strong £ in relation to the Euro.

Other inequities were highlighted, including the BSE-related costs hampering the British pig industry, the 560kg payment ceiling for over-30-month scheme cattle, increased taxation on road haulage, and the impact on agriculture of the proposed climate change levy.

Scottish farm minister Ross Finnie, who met union leaders before the Edinburgh march, said he would do all he could at the next meeting of UK farm ministers to secure short-term help for the industry. But he warned that it would be an uphill struggle getting anything from the Treasury which controls the purse strings on all the issues raised

Mr Walker was due to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. in his Dunfermline constituency today (Fri), the first time a UK farming leader the Scottish union president has been granted an audience, despite months of trying.