The issue of wastage by supermarket retailers was a hot topic at a rural hustings attended by a panel of five politicians in Edinburgh on Tuesday (20 March), ahead of the Scottish elections in May.
Shiona Baird , joint convener of the Green party at Holyrood, displayed carrots which had been grown on her family farm at Scotston, near Dundee. Close inspection revelled they each had a slight skin blemish.
“Although they are part of a tremendous looking crop of organic carrots, they have a 65% rejection rate to meet supermarket standards. This is totally unacceptable…We need to address wastage on this scale. Two-for-one offers in supermarkets which growers have to fund also have a devastating effect on farmers. Why can’t they treat farmers fairly? We need an independent ombudsman and a statutory code of conduct to deal with supermarket power, “ Ms Baird said.
The event was organised by NFU Scotland, the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association and the Scottish Countryside Alliance who had invited along a high profile audience. The panel of representatives representing all the main parties showed a remarkable degree of unanimity on rural issues.
The panel was originally intended to include party leaders in a head-to-head debate but only one, Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, was on the stage. Sarah Boyack MSP represented the Labour party. Ross Finnie represented the Liberal Democrats with Richard Lochhead, MSP for Moray speaking for the SNP in the absence of Alec Salmond.
All spoke of the need for a healthier rural economy and were strong on the need to control over-regulation, something of a mantra during the meeting.