Lochhead retains rural affairs post in Scotland

Richard Lochhead, Scottish rural affairs cabinet secretary for the past four years, has been reappointed to his job by Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond.

It was the first cabinet post to be announced by the SNP government.

A spokesman for the first minister said Scotland needed a “strong and experienced voice” to address the challenges that lie ahead, such as the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The spokesman pointed to successes since the SNP came to office such as an increase of 30% in Scottish food and drink sales and initiatives such as Scotland’s New Entrants Scheme to encourage a new generation of farmers.

The announcement was welcomed by NFU Scotland president, Nigel Miller who said it was good news for the food and farming sectors that Mr Lochhead remained in the driving seat.

“The continuity delivered by his reappointment will help us build on the good relationship that already exists between Scottish farmers and the Scottish government. As we look to the future, it is important that we continue to be led by someone who already has considerable knowledge and experience in the way our industries operate,” he said.

“That gives the cabinet secretary an excellent platform to negotiate from, whether on crucial longer term issues such as CAP Reform or even more immediate worries like the emerging problems around electronic tagging of sheep. Those debates will be held at home, at Westminster and in Brussels, and having someone who has a proven track record in supporting Scottish agriculture is reassuring.

“There is a lot going on in our industry and now the due political process in Scotland is complete, we look forward to sitting down with Mr Lochhead in the next few weeks to see how, together, we can get back to the business of delivering for our food and farming sectors,” Mr Miller added.

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