Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today called on the Scottish Government to set out more detail on support for island food and drink producers.
Last week, Mr McArthur tabled a series of Parliamentary Questions pressing the Scottish Government to set out how it plans to spend the £5 million package and how businesses in Orkney can access support. The questions were lodged on the back of the First Minister’s election commitment of “£5 million investment to support island and rural produce.”
Responding to Mr McArthur’s questions today, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing MSP said: “We [the Scottish Government] will engage with key stakeholders, including businesses and organisations on how the £5 million investment fund can promote island, rural and regional food and drink produce…”
Commenting, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur said:
“It is welcome news that the Scottish Government will engage with businesses and organisations about how this investment fund can promote island produce. Indeed, support for island produce will be best delivered when decision makers listen to the needs of local business here in the Northern Isles.
“It is a little disappointing, however, that the Scottish Government cannot provide any detail about the shape this initiative will take. Without any sense of the priorities for the scheme or even a timeframe for delivery of the funding, it may be difficult for local businesses to know how best to respond.
“I will raise these concerns when I meet the new Islands Minister next week. Hopefully, a bit more guidance can be offered to help food and drink producers in the islands make best use of this support.”