The Scottish Liberal Democrats say Scottish farmers should be helped to capitalise on a growing consumer awareness of food miles.
Setting out his party’s stall on agriculture and rural policy on a farm in the Borders, Lib Dem leader, Willie Rennie said the next Scottish Government needed to boost Scottish farming by cutting food miles and helping producers navigate procurement processes.
And he pledged his party would work collaboratively on a new system of agricultural support to promote climate-friendly farming.
He said: “Scotland’s farmers produce some of the best food. From beef to the berries it’s amazing the quality of the products that are grown on our doorsteps.
“The more the food miles, the greater the damage to the environment.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want a system that delivers climate-friendly farming alongside the critical work of producing food and providing rural employment.”
He pointed out the importance of food security early in the pandemic and the role farmers played in working “day-in day-out” to keep food on shelves and tables when global supply chains seized up.
He added: “In our successful budget negotiations with the Scottish Government we succeeded in securing £5 million more for agriculture transition funding, which rewards farmers for good practices and helps our climate change priorities.
“Much more support will need to follow in the years ahead to help farmers make the adaptations we all want to see.”
Key elements of the party’s rural policy include:
- Work collaboratively to establish a new system of agricultural support which promotes climate-friendly farming alongside the critical work of producing food and providing rural employment.
- Cut food miles by valuing quality seasonal Scottish produce through procurement and helping producers and processors to navigate tendering
- Work across the UK to prevent our markets being flooded with poor quality food that undercuts the goods we produce to high environmental and animal welfare standards.
- ‘Croft proof’ future agricultural support to make sure active, family farmers and crofters are properly supported.
Mr Rennie said: “If Scotland is to recover from the pandemic, we need every sector running at full capacity, not more barriers, red tape and uncertainty,” Mr Rennie said.
“Our rural areas need a government that would put recovery first.”