L- R Jim Fairlie, Gary Mitchell, Gail Ross MSP, Pete Ritchie
I chaired a fringe event at the SNP Conference in March on food and the common agricultural policy
As we enter an uncertain future for farming and food production due to the possible end of the common agricultural policy, where does that leave Scotland's food producers? How can we support the food industry going forward and how can we ensure more local procurement and access to good, nutritious food?
Panel members -
Gail Ross MSP, Deputy Convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Chair
Jim Fairlie - farmer, producer, food lover and a man with more than one opinion about Scottish Food, Farming and Politics! Passionate about what Scotland's farmers have to offer our country and the wider world. With a big dose of self belief and a willingness to get in there and give it all a go we can change how our children see their food, how the supermarkets respect their suppliers and how we all enjoy the countryside and those who make their living from it.
Gary Mitchell - farmer from West Galdenoch, Stranraer - Gary operated an arable and beef enterprise until September 2007 when he switched to dairying, starting with 130 cows while converting the farm. He now currently milks 800, with all female young-stock over three months old reared off farm under contract. He farms 750 acres of which 450 acres are owned and 300 acres rented (half on a five-year tenancy). Around 150 acres are zero grazed; 375 acres are gown for silage and 225 acres are in winter wheat. Gary was Milk Committee Chairman from 2012 to 2014 and he has been Regional Chairman for Dumfries and Galloway since February 2014
Pete Ritchie - Executive Director, Nourish Scotland - Pete has a background in community development and social policy. As executive director, Pete is responsible with the board and staff team for focusing Nourish Scotland’s work where it can be most effective. This includes engaging with policy-makers and stakeholders as well as working for change from the bottom-up with grassroots groups. As well as working at Nourish, Pete runs Whitmuir Organics with his partner Heather Anderson.
Discussion included land use, planning, CAP payments and food production in general. also discussed was the possibility of Scotland having its own supermarket regulator to ensure fair prices for food producers. Farmers markets and local food production were also discussed as was the importance of our children learning about where their food comes from.