Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has highlighted fears within the farming and fishing sectors sparked by an “exceptional rise in input costs” which he warned is forcing some to consider leaving “leaving the industry entirely”.
Speaking at General Questions in parliament earlier today, Mr McArthur told the chamber that a rise in fuel costs is some forcing “boats in Orkney to tie up” while increased fuel, feed and fertiliser costs are threatening “the very viability of many farms”.
Mr McArthur pressed the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, for urgent government support to these sectors. In response, Ms Gougeon confirmed that the Food Security and Supply Task Force, established by the Scottish Government, would provide recommendations shortly.
The Cabinet Secretary also confirmed the Scottish Government's request for a UK four-nation summit on the crisis was agreed to by the UK Government yesterday and preparation was underway.
Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:
“While many are feeling the pinch at the pumps and in our pockets, there is an acute impact on those sectors where fuel is among their biggest costs.
“This is particularly true for our farmers and fishing fleet where input costs have risen exponentially over recent weeks.
“Boats are being forced to tie-up and even leave the industry entirely while greater fuel, feed and fertiliser costs are threatening serious long-term implications to production and overall viability for many farm businesses.
“The Cabinet Secretary recently established a Food Security and Supply Task Force and I welcome her confirmation that the group’s recommendations will be published shortly. Ministers will then need to act on those recommendations with genuine urgency.
“Ms Gougeon is right to be pursuing options on a four-nation basis as well. Again though, the urgency to of the current situation needs to be recognised by governments across the UK of food security is to be maintained.”