McArthur writes to Rural Affairs Secretary over Orkney agriculture snub

31 Jul 2023

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has written to Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, after it was revealed that a Scottish Government tour of Scottish agricultural shows includes no dates in the Northern Isles.

Scottish Government officials are scheduled to attend agricultural shows around the country to explain and field questions about the proposed Agriculture Bill that will determine future regulation and payments. However, no visits have been planned for Orkney or Shetland, prompting Mr McArthur to write to the Rural Affairs Secretary urging her to reverse this decision.

Indeed, this latest ‘snub’ follows a similar situation last year, where a roadshow of consultation events on the government’s Agriculture Bill initially excluded Orkney and Shetland. After representations made by Mr McArthur, Ms Gougeon agreed to extend the consultation period to allow a further meeting to take place in Kirkwall, which was the best-attended of all the events held across Scotland.

Mr McArthur commented:

“It is good to see Scottish Government officials attending shows across Scotland over the summer and early autumn to discuss the proposed Bill and its impact on future regulation and funding of agriculture. However, it makes no sense at all for Orkney and Shetland to be excluded from this process, given the critical importance of farming to both island communities.

“Local department officials in Orkney have a good track record of attending the shows and I would expect them to be to be out and about again this year. So it’s all the more baffling that the Scottish Government has not saw fit to include either the Dounby or County Shows in the list of published events at which officials will be seeking views and answering questions.

“I have been contacted by constituents who say they feel snubbed. I am therefore seeking urgent confirmation from the Cabinet Secretary that Orkney will be included in this latest round of consultation on a piece of legislation that will have a huge bearing on the future of our islands”.