Rural Payments Strategy 2020-21

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 12th November 2020.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Where do I begin?

First of all, the statement announced new information about very important matters for farmers and crofters. It has told them when they can expect to get their money. As someone who has been in business—I do not know whether Mr Mundell has been anywhere near business—I can say that it is very important to know when the money is coming in. Just as we are fortunate to get paid every month, and to know on what day we will be paid, it is quite helpful in business to know when the money is coming in.

The statement contains new information. It is designed not for Mr Mundell, but for farmers and crofters, so that they know when they will get their money. I am proud of the RPID staff who have delivered the information. I do not think that his facetious and snide approach does the member any credit at all.

With regard to vision, I have provided a very clear vision of a thriving agricultural sector that produces the highest-quality food in the world, and aspires to do so with the highest-quality environmental standards. I think that that is a pretty good vision, and do you know something, Presiding Officer? I think that more and more people are sharing it. That is why I am determined, working with my colleague Jim Walker, to lead the programme board and to drive it forward to develop a beef herd in Scotland that is not only the finest but the purest in the world, and one that is certainly miles ahead of many of the offerings that arrive from other parts of the world with a huge carbon footprint.

I am also proud of all the other sectors in our very varied farming panoply—from the hill farmers to the vegetable and fruit growers, from our arable sector to our sheep sector and our pig sector, and so on and so forth. My job and my vision is to allow them a secure future.

Lastly, on LFASS, Oliver Mundell’s assertion was complete codswallop—it was the absolute total opposite of the truth. I have made it crystal clear that I have been intent on maintaining hill farmers’ income. I have done that from day 1. Mr Mundell is out on his own with his unfounded Trumpian assertions.