Mairi Gougeon reappointed as Scots rural affairs secretary

Mairi Gougeon will retain her position as cabinet secretary for rural affairs, land reform and islands in the Scottish government, following a cabinet reshuffle by new first minister Humza Yousaf.

Mr Yousaf’s Scottish National Party leadership rival, Kate Forbes was reportedly offered the position ahead of Ms Gougeon, but declined and will return to the backbenches.

Scottish Conservative shadow rural affairs secretary Rachael Hamilton said: “It looks as though Mairi Gougeon is only remaining as rural affairs secretary due to Humza Yousaf’s first choice for the role turning it down.

See also: ‘Farming matters’ NFU Scotland tells new SNP leader

“Despite representing a rural constituency, Kate Forbes decided that being offered to take charge of the rural brief was an insult.”

Ms Hamilton said the onus is on Ms Gougeon to press ahead with delivering an agriculture bill that gives farmers, crofters and the sector as a whole clarity as to what future support will look like.

“Mairi Gougeon must also finally agree with repeated calls from the Scottish Conservatives and experts to give gene editing the green light,” she added.

Industry voice

NFU Scotland welcomed the reappointment of Ms Gougeon.

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said: “The cabinet secretary has regularly engaged with the industry and has a very good grasp of the role our sector plays and the many complicated and technical issues around it. 

“Since August 2021, I have co-chaired the agriculture reform implementation oversight board with the cabinet secretary to oversee the vital Scottish government decisions being made to help farmers and crofters deliver on the three top priorities of food production, climate change mitigation and biodiversity enhancement.”

The position of cabinet secretary for net zero and just transition has been filled by Mairi McAllan.

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