We fund a range of research, particularly through our strategic research programme. The research that is planned for the coming year includes crucial work on vaccines and treatments for animal diseases, which can cost farmers millions of pounds in lost revenue. We also fund research on crop development, which supports the arable sector, as well as improvements to soft fruit stock for the horticulture sector, and livestock breeding improvements. Details are available online on the SEFARI Gateway website.
Despite the minister’s ridiculous comments earlier, I want to set the record straight. The Scottish Conservatives care deeply about rural Scotland and we are concerned that although last year’s budget committed £40 million to an agricultural transformation programme, only £21.5 million of that fund was committed before this year’s budget announcement. Why was the 2020-21 agricultural transformation programme fund underspent, given that farmers tell me that there was huge interest and oversubscription to the sustainable agricultural capital grant scheme?
The funding that Rachael Hamilton references with regard to research has been considered, as one would expect. I am not clear on the direct link to the question on Scottish Government research. As I emphasised in my first answer, we fund a range of research, particularly through our strategic research programme. I also articulated the important and effective aspects in which that research is targeted and makes a meaningful difference for rural Scotland as a whole, and therefore for the benefit of Scotland as a whole.