Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)
Meeting date: Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Official Report 1028KB pdf
Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Storm Arwen (Response), Deaths in Prison Custody, Residential Rehabilitation, Gender-based Violence, Decision Time, Lamb for St Andrew’s Day Campaign
- Time for Reflection
- Business Motion
- Topical Question Time
- Storm Arwen (Response)
- Deaths in Prison Custody
- Residential Rehabilitation
- Gender-based Violence
- Decision Time
- Lamb for St Andrew’s Day Campaign
Lamb for St Andrew’s Day Campaign
The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S6M-01737, in the name of Jim Fairlie, on the lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.
That the Parliament congratulates all those who have been involved in the continuing #LambforStAndrewsDay campaign, including those in the Perthshire South and Kinross-shire constituency; notes the particular involvement of George Purves in establishing the programme in 2009; welcomes the participation of 180 schools from throughout Scotland, where, it understands, 30,000 portions of Scotch lamb will be cooked and served; considers that the campaign, which seeks to make Scotch lamb synonymous with celebrating St Andrew’s Day, perfectly showcases some of the best of Scottish produce; welcomes all positive endeavours to build on the fantastic progress that has already been made, and notes calls encouraging everyone to make St Andrew’s Day special by cooking top quality Scotch lamb in celebration.18:26
As we are all aware, today is the official day of our patron saint, St Andrew. We share him as a patron saint with several countries around the world, including Greece, Russia, Romania and Ukraine, as well as Barbados, for which 30 November is also its independence day and, from today, the date on which it officially became a republic. St Andrew is also the patron saint of butchers and farm workers, among others, which is relevant to today’s debate.
In Scotland, 30 November, or the Monday closest to it, was designated as an official bank holiday by the Parliament in 2007. It is absolutely right and proper that we continue to pay due deference to the man who has been celebrated in Scotland for more than 1,000 years, with feasts being held in his honour from as far back as 1000 AD. St Andrew is credited with helping the Pictish King Angus defeat the Saxons, when, in a dream, Angus was given the message that he would see a cross in the sky and would conquer his enemies in its name. The following morning, Angus saw the saltire in the light of the rising sun, which gave him and his men huge confidence, and they were victorious in their battle. From that time on, St Andrew and the saltire cross were adopted as national symbols of an emerging country. In 1320, with the declaration of Arbroath, when Scotland declared its independence from England, St Andrew was, with the agreement of Pope John XI, made our patron saint.
With that kind of history, feasting in St Andrew’s name is surely every bit as important today as it ever was. We all know that Burns is celebrated around the world as one of our most successful exports ever. It would be interesting to know the economic impact of every Burns supper around the globe. It is safe to say that it would be substantial. The Burns supper is really about celebrating our heritage and culture, although I have to say that, personally, I have been far too lax in my appreciation of the bard.
However, you simply cannot have a Burns night without the haggis—no matter where in the world they are, folk know that Burns night must have haggis, neeps and tatties, washed down with a good dram. The association of a particular food with a particular celebration is a recurring theme, with turkey for Christmas, steak pie on new year’s day and now—I argue—Scotch lamb for St Andrew’s day. It stands to reason that St Andrew’s day should have its own dish that families across the country can enjoy together.
For me, it is also about personal attachment. In 2009, I was approached by George Purves, whom I had come to know very well through selling my lambs to him for many years at United Auctions, when I was a farmer. He had been attending a Scottish Enterprise rural leadership programme, where he and sheep farmer Willie Mitchell came up with the idea of developing a lamb dish to be served on St Andrew’s day as part of the new bank holiday. The idea was to get more people tasting lamb when it was at its seasonal best, and to help it to become a more mainstream meat to be consumed in Scotland. For me, that added to our cultural heritage and the celebration of our saint’s day.
The personal link was that George needed something to launch the idea, and what better way to do that than to have Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s number 1 chef, create a recipe for St Andrew’s day using lamb as the main ingredient? I had been supplying Andy’s restaurant for many years with the lamb that I farmed, and Andy had cooked it at the Queen’s banquet during the G8 summit at Gleneagles.
That meal had the French President, Jacques Chirac, eating his words when the food that was prepared for the Queen and world leaders was declared to be a culinary triumph, with Scotch lamb from a farm that is less than 60 miles from Gleneagles as the centrepiece of the meal. Surely a meat that was good enough for the Queen and the most powerful leaders in the world is a meat that is worthy of the dinner plates of families across Scotland. Who better to devise a recipe using that meat than Scotland’s top chef? The man who prepared that meal even shared the name of our patron saint. I asked Andy to get involved, he duly obliged, and the lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign was launched.
Incidentally, Andy is also believed to have prepared the world’s highest Burns supper while on top of Kilimanjaro in 2007. His connection to our food heritage will, for me, always be much more than his restaurant and scholarship.
Fast forward to now, and that early idea has developed and grown through the tenacity and hard work of George Purves, who was determined to make sure that St Andrew’s day and lamb would become synonymous. To that end, he teamed up with Quality Meat Scotland, the NFU Scotland, the National Sheep Association Scotland, and the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, and they set out to get lamb on menus and into classrooms for thousands of schoolchildren right across the country.
I mentioned the project to the general manager of the Gleneagles hotel, Conor O’Leary, and he has also used today to put a lamb dish on in the hotel’s restaurants. The restaurant that still bears Andy’s name continues to have lamb as its number 1 bestselling dish, despite the fact that I no longer sell it the lamb, and the garden lobby restaurant right here in the Parliament has also put Scotch lamb on today. I congratulate everyone involved on pulling it together.
As far as the schools project is concerned, there are fantastic statistics on participation and a load of great recipes for what is, for me, the most flavoursome of all the meat that we produce—although I will leave colleagues to talk about that. What the project does in spades is demonstrate that co-operation in the industry, from field to fork, is absolutely essential. When it is done properly, the success can be brilliant.
I congratulate George Purves and Willie Mitchell on the idea, and all the organisations that have pulled the project together. Let us all do what we can to make Scotch lamb synonymous with St Andrew’s day. I thank those colleagues who signed the motion and have attended today’s debate. I wish you all a happy St Andrew’s day and urge you to have a good plate of Scotch lamb for your dinner.18:32
I am delighted to join Jim Fairlie and colleagues today in marking not only St Andrew’s Day, but also the lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign. I do not want to upset other livestock farmers, but a leg of Scotch lamb, cooked simply with rosemary and garlic, is one of my go-tos for a Sunday roast.
In my constituency in the Borders, the landscape houses around a million sheep, or 17 per cent of the national total, especially in Teviothead and the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys. At this point, I want to mention my recent visit with Alec Telfer to Sam McClymont’s at Tinnis. Both are fine champions of blackface breeding and the visit gave me the opportunity to appreciate the excellent work that they do to conserve upland biodiversity. Then, of course, there are the Kelso ram sales that were held at Springwood for the first time in two years. They had 20 breeds in 15 rings, a record-breaking turnover of more than £3.4 million, and a new Kelso record of £65,000 for a Kelso tup.
Scotland’s beef, lamb and pork producers make an important contribution to the country’s rural economy, contributing more than £2.1 billion to Scotland’s annual gross domestic product and supporting around 50,000 jobs in the farming, agricultural supply and processing sectors. In the short time that I have this evening, I want to highlight the importance of promoting Scotch lamb, educating young people about food, and the steps that we need to take to grow the industry in the future—a topic on which Jim Fairlie and I stand toe to toe. This debate is very important and I am grateful to him for bringing it to the chamber.
It is a simple fact that we do not eat enough lamb in Scotland. If we are to meet climate targets, reduce food miles and support our farmers, more consumers should be buying local sustainable lamb as part of their weekly shop. QMS has highlighted that, in 2020, Scottish households spent £35.4 million on lamb from retail outlets such as supermarkets and butchers. Prices are high at the moment, which is providing a much-needed boost to the industry. However, it is estimated that, per person, Scottish households eat around half the average amount of lamb that is eaten by households in the UK as a whole.
It is, therefore, no surprise that public procurement in Scotland does not support Scottish lamb in the best way possible. I am not saying that it does not support it, but it does not do so in the best possible way. Right across public authorities, we need to see more local lamb used in dishes to make us truly a good food nation. I have great hope for the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill, which is due to come before Parliament, and I hope that the lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign will kick-start a revival in Scotland.
It is very encouraging to see the next generation getting involved in the campaign, with more than 11,600 home economics pupils cooking lamb today. As Jim Fairlie mentioned, it is thanks to the work of my constituent George Purves of United Auctions, who started the campaign following a Scottish Enterprise rural leadership project. He is absolutely passionate about it and his fantastic work ensured that young people in the Borders, including school pupils from Selkirk, Hawick and Galashiels, tried lamb for the first time in their life. Some of them are from very deprived communities.
I firmly believe that countryside education, particularly on food and farming, should be at the heart of the curriculum. I have long called for such fantastic initiatives as the field to fork initiative to be included in the national syllabus. It is a disgrace that there are just 12 female butchers working in Scotland. It is a true reflection of the lack of rural workforce planning that I believe the Scottish Government should be taking on. We desperately need an emphasis on practical skills in agriculture.
I am grateful for the hard work of all the people who are involved in the campaign, especially Quality Meat Scotland. Such fantastic initiatives promote very well our wonderful Scottish produce and encourage the consumer to buy locally and sustainably. What we need now is action. We need clarity over future farm policy, for the sake of the lamb industry. I urge the Government to take the positive message of today forward.
I finish by wishing everyone a very happy St Andrew’s day, especially Martin Kennedy, Minette Batters, Victor Chestnutt and John Davies—who are flying the flag for Scotland and the United Kingdom, and for livestock farmers and lamb producers right across the country—at Downing Street tonight to celebrate British food and drink.18:36
I welcome the opportunity to speak in the lamb for St Andrew’s day debate and congratulate Jim Fairlie on securing it.
Jim has highlighted perfectly why we should eat lamb on St Andrew’s day. I put on record my support for the campaign to promote Scotch lamb on St Andrew’s day, which is a campaign that I have been aware of and have backed since my election in 2016. I support what is stated in the motion, I congratulate George Purves on launching the campaign back in 2009 and I welcome how it has grown year on year since then.
Organisations supporting the lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign include Quality Meat Scotland, the NFU Scotland, the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland and the National Sheep Association Scotland. Pre-Covid, when I was a member of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee in the previous parliamentary session, I attended the Scottish NSA’s annual dinner at Airth castle in Stirlingshire in 2019 and was pleased to carve the lamb to help to promote Scotch lamb.
All those organisations have supported United Auctions’ campaign to make Scotch lamb PGI—protected geographical indication—the go-to dish for St Andrew’s day, just as turkey is synonymous with Christmas day. #LambForStAndrewsDay has been a positive campaign since its introduction. Last year alone, there was a 9 per cent uplift in the value of lamb and a 6.9 per cent uplift in the volume of lamb being sold in Scotland.
In a bold move to supply free lamb to as many Scottish schools as possible during the week of St Andrew’s day, the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland launched a lamb bank in August this year. The scheme allows farmers who are selling lambs via IAAS marts to donate lambs for the initiative, which aims to get as many Scottish school children as possible cooking and eating lamb on and around St Andrew’s day. Because of the lamb bank, and support and promotion by Quality Meat Scotland and partners, 30,000 portions of lamb will be served this year at 180 participating schools across Scotland.
Across Dumfries and Galloway, in my South Scotland region, that includes Lockerbie academy and Castle Douglas high school. At both those schools, health and technology pupils have had the option of making either a Scotch lamb burger or a Scotch lamb wrap with crushed garlic peas, and those have also been on the menu in the canteen.
Those steps are welcome. As well as promoting our Scotch lamb, they help to educate young people. Rachael Hamilton was right about that. We are helping to educate young people about Scottish agriculture and about the importance of supporting and promoting the industry and local supply chains. That is also an important part of tackling the climate emergency.
In a response to a question that I asked him in the chamber, Jamie Hepburn agreed to meet me and NFU Scotland representative George Jamieson to talk about how we might develop rural skills. There is a wee bit of progress.
May I be so bold as to ask Emma Harper whether I can join the meeting to discuss rural skills in the south of Scotland?
That is a great idea; I will keep Rachael Hamilton in the loop. The issue transcends politics; we need to work together to promote rural skills development for the future. I thank the member.
Like other members, I will check out the tasty recipes in this “Tasty Little Guide” on Scotch lamb. I know that we dinnae really have props in the chamber, but here it is: it has Scotch lamb and beef recipes and it was created by Quality Meat Scotland.
Lamb for St Andrew’s day is a good news story for us, which needs to be promoted, shared and celebrated. I welcome the debate. I encourage everyone to consider eating Scotch lamb on St Andrew’s day, and I thank the Scottish Government for supporting our lamb and sheep sector.
Thank you, Ms Harper. That will be the one and only use of a prop in the debate.18:41
I wish everyone a happy St Andrew’s day and thank Jim Fairlie for the motion, which gives us the opportunity to discuss and celebrate Scotland’s hugely important sheep sector.
The sector accounts for nearly a third of Scotland’s agricultural holdings. The Scottish Government estimates that, in 2020, output from sheep farming alone totalled nearly £300 million. As a member who represents the rural south of Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, which are home to more than 30 per cent of the breeding sheep in Scotland, I know how important the sector is.
Although the sector accounts for 8.6 per cent of Scottish agricultural output, Quality Meat Scotland found that, on average, Scottish households eat half the amount of lamb per person that is eaten across the United Kingdom as a whole, so I welcome initiatives such as the make it lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign and their role in promoting Scotch lamb to us Scots.
The lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign was established in 2010 by George Purves of United Auctions and sheep farmer Willie Mitchell, and it has gone from strength to strength over the past decade. The response to this year’s focus on engaging schoolchildren through cooking has been excellent. More than 190 schools signed up and 30,000 pupils were reached across Scotland.
Many other community and youth groups are getting involved in the initiative this year. I am pleased that, in South Scotland, not only have a large number of schools, including Lockerbie academy and Castle Douglas high school, signed up to the lamb bank, but local groups have got involved. For example, Dumfries Saints Rugby Club is hosting a lamb dinner for players and supporters.
This debate presents a great opportunity to recognise the combined efforts of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland and QMS to make the campaign accessible to young people. By donating Scotch lamb and providing recipes and educational material to Scottish schools, IAAS and QMS are enhancing learning about locally produced food as a sustainable choice and are encouraging important discussions on climate change and Scottish agriculture.
It is important that we teach our children and young people where their food comes from; integrating education about the local supply chain in home economics lessons is an excellent way to do that. We need to build on the approach, to provide better information about what it means to eat seasonally and locally, and to embedfarming and food production in our curriculum at every level.
Having Scottish produce on the menu in schools reminds us that we need to do more to ensure a renewed focus on local procurement. Cutting food miles and food waste has never been more important, and one of the best ways to do that is to value Scottish produce, including through a “local first” public procurement policy. We need a step change in how we procure our food, with ingredient origin accounted for in local buying and stronger support for local businesses as they navigate the procurement process.
The sheep sector is performing strongly at the moment. I had the pleasure recently of visiting QMS chair Kate Rowell’s farm at Hundleshope, near Peebles. As we stood by bags of wool, we talked about the fact that, despite lamb prices being on the way up, it still cost more to shear the sheep than the bags would sell for.
Happily, wool prices are beginning to recover, but this remains a hugely challenging time for many people in agriculture, who continue to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the uncertainty around Brexit and the consequential trade deals, for example with Australia and New Zealand, which many people rightly fear will lead to unfettered access for a large volume of imported goods that can be produced by farming systems that are not currently permitted here. The Scottish Government needs to give more clarity on the agricultural support scheme that will replace the common agricultural policy to help our farmers reach net zero.
Our agriculture sector really stepped up to the mark throughout the pandemic, and I place on record my thanks to our farmers and crofters who are working so tirelessly to keep us all fed. It is now time for the Government and this Parliament to step up to the mark to give our farmers and crofters the direction and the backing that they need to ensure that they can meet the challenges that they face and can continue to produce the high-quality Scottish produce, such as Scotch lamb, that we rightly celebrate this St Andrew’s day and beyond.18:45
I wish everyone a very happy St Andrew’s day, and I also thank Jim Fairlie for bringing this debate to the chamber. I know how personal this campaign is to him, and his well-cultivated speech—not to mention his lamb—is testament to that.
Today we celebrate Scotland’s patron saint, and what better way of celebrating him than with one of Scotland’s tastiest red meats—lamb? I agree with Rachael Hamilton that there is nothing better than roast lamb with garlic and rosemary.
I congratulate Quality Meat Scotland on its decade-long Scotland’s lamb for St Andrew’s day project. Last year, chef Tony Singh supported the campaign by creating a Scottish lamb curry infused with Tomatin cask-strength malt whisky. The dish is a combination of two of Scotland’s finest ingredients with a Indian-inspired twist—though, living on Islay, I would suggest a Kilchoman malt from Islay’s farm distillery.
As Colin Smyth and Emma Harper have said, a lot of creativity is happening in a lot of our schools, with pupils serving Scotch lamb street-cafe style and others using it in their home economics classes. Indeed, Perthshire scouts have been using their campfire skills to serve up Scotch lamb. What fantastic ways of introducing our kids to culinary skills, an understanding of where our food comes from and a bit of history, too.
Growing up in St Andrews, I was told how the town came to be. According to legend, St Rule was instructed by an angel to take as many of St Andrew’s bones as he could from Greece to the far western ends of the earth to protect them from the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great. Rule and his followers set sail for the west, eventually finding themselves off Scotland, where they were shipwrecked in 347. The story goes that Rule was welcomed by the Pictish king and established in what is now St Andrews a church that was dedicated to St Andrew and which housed his relics.
St Andrew is the patron saint not only of Scotland but of several countries including Barbados, Romania and Ukraine and of cities in Italy, Portugal, Malta, the Philippines and Greece. I therefore propose that on St Andrew’s day we celebrate our patron saint with our home-produced lamb and Scotland’s spirit of internationalism with dishes from around the world that are connected to St Andrew. I will list a few to tempt members’ tastebuds—although I have to say that I am starving, so my stomach will probably start rumbling as I say this. There is traditional Romanian lamb stufat, marinated in Feteasca wine; hearty lamb dushenina, an age-old Ukrainian national dish; the rustic traditional Greek recipe, lamb kleftiko; and the Portuguese lamb stew, chanfana de borrego, to which piri-piri gives a slight spicy kick.
Today’s Guardian podcast, “Barbados becomes a republic—and Britain faces a reckoning”, is a powerful listen that traces Barbados’s journey through colonialism, slavery, liberation and emancipation to independence on 30 November 55 years ago. Today, it becomes a republic, and no doubt Bajan lamb stew will be part of the celebrations in many Barbadian homes.
Jenni Minto has just mentioned loads of lamb recipes, but does she agree that lamb also has evident nutritional benefits? For example, it is high in protein—a 3oz serving contains 25g of it. That shows how beneficial it is to our health.
I agree. As I have said, lamb is one of my favourite dishes. Indeed, we have lamb rather than turkey on Christmas day, so there you go.
Let us make Scotch lamb one of the celebret—I knew that I was going to get that wrong—celly—I cannot even say it—celebratory dishes of the Scottish calendar, let us support our farmers, crofters and butchers by cooking lamb for St Andrew’s day, and let us celebrate the tradition of Scottish thriftiness by making heartwarming stovies from the leftovers on 1 December.
Thank you, Ms Minto, and congratulations on your perseverance.18:50
I thank Jim Fairlie for bringing the motion to the chamber, and I congratulate him on securing the debate. He and Jenni Minto both spoke about St Andrew, who is of course the patron saint of Scotland. Today, as a Fife MSP and somebody who therefore represents St Andrews, I am pleased that I was involved in the cross-party campaign that was led by Dennis Canavan and others to get St Andrew’s day recognised as a national holiday. We were eventually successful in that. The cross-party group on St Andrew’s day carries on with that tradition, and very important it is, too.
Jim Fairlie and other members who have spoken are absolutely right to praise Scotch lamb for its nutritional benefit and excellent taste. I am sure that Jim Fairlie would agree with me that the king among Scottish lamb is, of course, Perthshire lamb, which Mr Fairlie himself used to produce. In fact, I remember eating Mr Fairlie’s lamb before he sadly abandoned farming for the much less reputable trade of being a politician. Farming’s loss is Holyrood’s gain, however.
A number of members have talked about the excellent lamb for St Andrew’s day initiative. We need to do more to promote Scottish produce, in particular to get lamb on to menus in schools and elsewhere throughout the country. That is very welcome.
Emma Harper mentioned the climate emergency. It is worth reflecting on that for a moment. One of the most serious threats to livestock farming today is a misunderstanding of the role that is played by agriculture, particularly livestock farming, in carbon emissions. We see that with councils discussing meat-free days in schools, and we saw it recently at the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—where there were calls for vegan-only menus to be served, because people thought that producing meat was in some way contributing to carbon emissions.
We need to be clear about the science. The pasture grass that grows on Scottish hills, on which sheep graze, is a carbon sink, and it does not contribute to carbon emissions and climate change. We need to be very clear in putting forward the science on that, so that there is no misunderstanding. Fortunately, the organisers of COP26 were clear about it. They did not give in to those calls; in fact, they quite rightly made sure that Scotch beef was on the menu at COP26. That is a battle that we must continue to fight, to make sure that our farmers who are producing top-quality produce are contributing to the fight against climate change, not making matters worse.
I bring my remarks to a close by wishing everybody a happy St Andrew’s day, and I look forward to all the excellent lamb recipes that we have heard about being experimented on later.
Thank you, Mr Fraser. That was an excellent contribution, but light on recipes, if I may say so.
I now invite the Minister for Environment and Land Reform to respond to the debate.18:53
I am afraid that I do not have a single recipe to offer you, Presiding Officer, but I begin by wishing you and all members a very happy St Andrew’s day. I give my thanks to Jim Fairlie for lodging the motion and for paying tribute to the folks who were involved in founding the campaign. I thank all the members who have taken part today.
What better way to celebrate one of our national days than by enjoying one of our national dishes? The lamb for St Andrew’s day initiative is an excellent way to bring together Scotland’s cultural and culinary heritage. I hope that it will increase the popularity of Scottish lamb and draw attention to the value of Scottish agriculture and food production.
As has been rehearsed, the campaign started just over 10 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. It is fantastic to see that more than 190 schools are signed up to the campaign, which we reckon is reaching 30,000 pupils all over Scotland. That is 75 more schools than last year.
As my colleague Jenny Minto mentioned, youth groups are also involved. I hope that the Perthshire scout group, which has 35 young explorers camping at Greenhill in Dunning, will enjoy the challenge of dishing up two lamb recipes using their campfire cooking skills. Perhaps they can draw on some of the international recipes that Jenny Minto shared with us. It is fantastic that young people in Scotland are learning how to prepare lamb and how delicious it is, and that they are doing so as part of celebrating our culture and history.
I am sure that we would all agree that the principal congratulations should go to our Scotch lamb producers. During this year, there were more than 15,000 sheep holdings in Scotland. That is almost a third of all Scotland’s agricultural holdings and highlights the centrality of lamb to Scottish agriculture.
However, while we celebrate our lamb producers, we cannot fail to recognise the challenges that they and livestock farmers more generally are facing. I want to recognise that and to assure them that the Scottish Government is fully behind them. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected us all—it has taken something from everyone, and so much from some. However, amid the crisis, our food producers, processors and retailers worked so hard to ensure that we had food on our plates. Amid the anxiety and distress of that period, there was a glimmer of hope in a renewed appreciation of what our food workers and other key workers do.
To help our food producers to recover from Covid-19, the Scottish Government has allocated £10 million to support the Scottish food and drink recovery plan. That will also have to help to address the impacts of the UK’s decision to pursue a hard Brexit amid a global health crisis. Of course, that was a move that Scotland roundly rejected and has led to expense and other barriers for the third of our lamb exports that would otherwise be traded with the European Union and Northern Ireland.
Given that today is St Andrew’s day, and this is a debate on the importance of lamb, it is not the time to bring back constitutional grievances, particularly when QMS cites that 64 per cent of all exports of lamb go to the rest of the UK.
Although it might be inconvenient for Rachael Hamilton, for our food producers and farmers, not a day goes by when they are not concerned about what her party has done in Government. The UK Government has rushed to sign major trade deals with major lamb-producing countries such as New Zealand and Australia —
Will the minister take an intervention?
No, I must make progress—Ms Hamilton has had her time.
Economic modelling suggests that the trade deal with Australia could produce a 0.02 per cent increase in GDP and that the deal with New Zealand will produce an increase of—wait for it—0.0 per cent. That is all against the contraction in GDP of 4.9 per cent, which has been caused by Brexit. That is a real concern for the Scottish Government and NFU leaders. One NFU leader stated that the deals will open the UK
“to significantly extra volumes of imported food ... while securing almost nothing in return for our farmers.”
NFU Scotland said:
“This latest deal offers virtually nothing to Scottish farmers and crofters in return but risks undermining our valuable ... sectors by granting access to large volumes of imported goods that could be produced in farming systems”
It is rather sad that we have had such a discordant note from the Scottish Government in what has been a consensual debate. On the subject of Brexit, will the minister reflect on the comments from the SNP’s economic adviser, Professor Mark Blyth, that independence would be “Brexit times ten”?
As I said, it might be inconvenient for Tory members to hear exactly what their party’s policies mean for farmers right now, but this is an important day to mention it because we are all hoping to enjoy what those farmers are producing for us.
As members, including Murdo Fraser, have mentioned, we face another challenge: the need to get to net zero by 2045. We must do that fairly, which requires action at every level, including in livestock production. Scotland’s farmers and food producers will be and are already at the forefront of that work.
The agriculture reform implementation oversight board, which is co-chaired by my colleague Mairi Gougeon and Martin Kennedy of the NFUS, is already working on how we can transform and support farming and food production Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. Its work covers all aspects of agriculture, including meat and dairy sectors, and is geared towards meeting the challenges of our climate targets, supporting biodiversity and—crucially—continuing to produce sustainable food.
On the topic of challenges, another major challenge is to ensure that more people in Scotland have reliable and affordable access to nutritious locally sourced and produced good-quality food, such as Scotch lamb. The Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill, which we introduced in early October, will do just that. It will ensure that there are links between national food policies and those of local authorities. We are already making strides towards ensuring that more local produce is served in our public sector.
In closing, I thank everyone for taking part in the lamb on St Andrew’s day campaign, Quality Meat Scotland for its on-going support, the people whom Jim Fairlie mentioned who founded the excellent campaign, and most of all, all the people who work year round in all weathers to produce Scotch lamb, which is among the best in the world. It is by buying, cooking and eating quality Scotch lamb on St Andrew’s day—and throughout the year—that we can support the sector and achieve our local food ambitions.
If members did not already enjoy the quality Scotch lamb that was available in the Parliament canteen this afternoon, I hope that they will go home and enjoy some this evening.
Thank you, minister, I am sure that we will all take up that invitation. That concludes the debate.Meeting closed at 19:01.