With the general election set for 6 May the Scottish National Party sets out its main policies for Scottish farming.
How would you encourage new entrants into farming?
The SNP government is already doing the maximum for new entrants permitted by Europe. We introduced interest rate subsidies for new entrants into the Scotland Rural Development Programme and last year added a set-up grant to the scheme. We are currently addressing other issues faced by new entrants including tenancy and SFP rules.
Should farmers be allowed to grow genetically modified crops?
The SNP opposes the cultivation of GM crops in Scotland. We are committed to a clean and sustainable natural environment that makes any cultivation of GM crops unacceptable and undesirable.
What measures will you adopt to tackle animal disease?
The SNP government is already taking proactive and robust, evidence-based approach to the control of endemic diseases and is actively seeking ways to reduce their impact. A recent notable example of this is the EU recognition of Scotland’s TB-free status.
What percentage of food should be home grown?
The SNP government’s efforts to promote Scottish produce are paying off, with sales of Scottish brands across Scotland, England and Wales jumping 21% over the past two years. This year we will do even more. Our ambitions are high and we have increased our target for growing the value of the industry from £10bn by 2017 to £12.5bn.
How will you curb retailer power?
Supermarkets account for the vast majority of grocery retail sales in Scotland and are often the main link between consumers and the rest of the food supply chain. In Scotland we are already reaping the rewards of a more productive partnership through the Scottish Government’s Retailers’ Charter and Retailers’ Forum. This code of practice is a welcome step in ensuring our suppliers are treated fairly by our top 10 supermarkets, having been extended to cover all supermarkets with a turnover of more than £1bn. However, the SNP believes that needs strengthened in the form of an ombudsman. The establishment of an ombudsman is the responsibility of the UK government and SNP MPs will push for a strong supermarket ombudsman.
• To read policies from the three major parties click here, or to see Plaid Cymru’s policies here. You can have your say on the General Election in our forum.
* For a comment on the Election see Phil Clarke’s Business Blog