Black Isle Show visit

5 August 2010

Shadow Rural Affairs and Environment Minister Sarah Boyack visited the Black Isle Show today

Ms Boyack was met at the Black Isle Show by President Andrew Gammie and Secretary Rod Mackenzie.

Her visit, with Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Peter Peacock, included a stop at the National Farmers Union Scotland tent to chat with President Jim McLaren and Secretary James Withers, as well as stops at the Scottish Crofting Federation and RSPB tents.

She also met Angus McCall, Chairman of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, who has written to Rural Affairs and Environment Minister Richard Lochhead urging him to change legislation on how tenant farmers' rents are calculated.

Mr McCall says that there are shortfalls in the rent review system and that tenant farmers are having trouble achieving a reasonable rent settlement.

Sarah Boyack said: "It is great to be at the Black Isle Show again.

"It is terrific and I congratulate the organisers for all their hard work in making it such a great annual success.

She added: "Angus McCall has raised a very important issue with me on rents for tenant farmers, which make up a third of Scotlandís farming community.

"I will be urging Mr Lochhead to take their points very seriously indeed and, if necessary, change the legislation in how rents are calculated so tenant farmers can get a fairer deal."

Commenting on an announcement made by Mr Lochhead at the show about the Scottish Rural Development Programme, she said,

"The SRDP has been pretty much a disaster from the day the current government took office.

"It has been difficult to access, is extremely bureaucratic, and farmers and crofters have had huge and legitimate concerns to express about the whole scheme.

"It will take time to see if these latest changes make the kind of improvements everyone is calling for, if they do they will be very welcome.

"The Minister has used what will probably be his last visit to the Black Isle Show as Environment Minister to make this announcement, but there is a lot more he still needs to do to listen to the concerns of farmers and crofters and to support this vital sector."

Peter Peacock commented, "It has been great to have Sarah Boyack here to meet farmers and crofters and hear their concerns.

"Sarah will have a key role to play in the next Scottish government and will be working on Labour's manifesto for the coming election, so hearing the concerns and aspirations of the agricultural community is a vital part of that process."


The photograph above shows Peter Peacock with Sarah Boyack MSP (centre) and Susan Torrance, Chief Executive of the Highland Housing Alliance


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