An independent meat inspection body for Scotland and a greater say in European agricultural negotiations are the two most pressing priorities for the new SNP government’s rural affairs department, cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead has revealed.
Speaking at his first major agricultural event since being reappointed, Mr Lochhead told farmers at the country’s inaugural Beef Event at Garmouth in Moray that details of an independent meat inspection body were currently being worked up and he would make a further announcement at the Royal Highland Show in June.
“With such pressures on margins within the supply chain, we have a responsibility to investigate all opportunities to make the inspection system more efficient to reduce the cost to farmers and processors. This will further contribute to our overall aim of reducing the financial burden on the industry.”
Mr Lochhead said the Scottish Government was now actively demanding a greater say in European agricultural negotiations and went on to criticise the European Commission for “coming down like a ton of bricks” on administrations that had done their utmost to implement the sheep electronic tagging (EID) regulation effectively.
“We will continue to work with our industry, other UK administrations and through channels in Brussels to take our position forward based on the evidence from the ScotEID pilot,” he said.