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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

LOANS FOR FARMERS WELCOME BUT MORE TO BE DONE, SAYS COLIN SMYTH

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Colin Smyth has welcomedScottish Government’s decision to offer loans to allow farmers early access to their annual payment from the EU, but warned that far more needs to be done to support the industry following the impact of the recent dry weather.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Colin Smyth said:

 

“This long overdue announcement is welcome but doesn’t go far enough. Farmers have been warning of a crisis for months now, with grass growth at a standstill and hay and silage crops in some cases just half the normal level. 

“The shortages and spiraling prices for feed are hitting all sectors and both the Scottish and UK governments have to step up and do more.

"This announcement does not cover crucial Pillar 2 payments. The Scottish government must work to bring forward the payment of these schemes as a matter of urgency. 

"Beyond this, they should request a derogation of the 3-crop rule from the European Commission, shorten the EFA fallow period, and relax rules on the ploughing of ‘Green Manure crops’.

"From the relaxation of these rules and more incentives to boost animal feed supplies, there is a lot more that government can and must do to avert this crisis.” 

Mundell visit to New Zealand hopes to increase trade links

The Rt.Hon. David Mundell MP has just completed a trade visit with New Zealand and writes for DGChamber.

I'VE JUST completed a very positive official visit to the North and South Islands of New Zealand as part of a UK drive to increase already strong trade links.

Scotland has much in common with New Zealand, including a similar-sized population and involvement in rural tourism, agricultural technology, culture and education.

During my visit in my role as Scottish Secretary I have put particular emphasis on promoting Scotland's food and drink exports.

Many constituents, I'm sure, have family connections with New Zealand or know of a friend or relative who has lived or worked in the country.

The first Scots to visit New Zealand arrived with Captain Cook and it is thought that as many as 20 per cent of the first wave European settlers there came from Scotland. 

There is no better time to strengthen our existing links as, through the Brexit process, we seek to further enhance our trade worldwide.

During the visit I've spent time with Government Ministers and academics as well as visiting businesses and meeting entrepreneurs.

The Scottish links are valued and can be seen across the country.

There is particular pride in Dunedin, which was founded by Scots settlers, that they are twinned with Edinburgh.

I came across a number of interesting connections in New Zealand with my constituency.

While in Dunedin I took a detour and came across a Lockerbie Street. Perhaps a reader might know the details of why this connection came about? The street commands an amazing view over the city.

It put me in mind of the fact we have a Dunedin Road in Eastriggs, one of a number of New Zealand reminders across Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

Elsewhere in the city there is a statue of the bard Robert Burns and I was particularly impressed by the university tower architecture, which is based on Glasgow University.

Another highlight for me was visiting the Parliament Buildings in Wellington where I also saw the distinctive executive wing, known as The Behive.

But building further fruitful links for the future was top of the agenda and, all in all, it has been a busy, useful and encouraging week in New Zealand.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SHOULD SUPPORT WASTE PFI CONTRACT COMING BACK TO PUBLIC CONTROL, SAYS MSP

Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has re-iterated his call for the current Waste PFI Contract between Dumfries and Galloway Council and Shanks to be brought back under public control after recent threats by the private operator put local waste services at risk.

Renewi recently threatened to suspend its services which would have led to the closure of Household Waste Recycling Centres and contingency plans having to be put in place by the Council to ensure the disposal of waste. Last week it was announced by the Council that this threat had been lifted.

The MSP originally made the call for the waste contract to be brought back under public control in March when he predicted the current PFI contract would collapse after Renewi said it wanted to pull out of its contract with Shanks to provide household waste and recycling services for Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Renewi claimed that they wanted to withdraw from the contract because they had been unable to meet legal changes on new landfill diversion and recycling requirements set by the Scottish Government.

Despite the recent threats being lifted Colin Smyth is still concerned that with no agreement over the implementation of a zero waste plan, the only sustainable solution for waste services is for them to return to public control. 

Colin Smyth is also calling on the Scottish Government to commit to supporting financially a possible move to bring the waste contract services back into public control. The U.K. and Scottish Government currently provides Level Playing Field Support and Strategic Waste Fund Support which amounts to over £4million a year. 

Colin Smyth said, “The recent action by Renewi to threaten to close facilities they are contracted to provide was completely unacceptable and simply exposes the fact our local waste services are at the mercy of private companies who don’t want anything to do with them because they don’t make them a profit. The only solution is for the current Waste PFI contract to be brought back under public control. 

This will ensure that the public sector, accountable to local people make the day to day decisions over these vital services. However, the big concern is the fact the UK and Scottish Government’s provide funding directly for the PFI. It is vital that this financial support continues. The SNP have made clear they support ending PFI contracts in the past but if they stop this funding, those claims will be empty.  It will mean that local taxpayers will have to make up any shortfall in deliver waste services which is just not acceptable.”

McAlpine welcomes support for Scotch Lamb

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed £200,000 of new funding from the Scottish Government for Quality Meat Scotland’s Scotch Lamb promotional campaign.

The First Minister confirmed the funding as she attended aa farm show today (Monday).

The sheep sector plays a significant part in Scotland’s red meat industry, which is worth £892 million to Scotland.

Ms McAlpine commented:

“Sheep production is concentrated in the South of Scotland, with Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish borders the home to 31% of all the breeding sheep – so this is good news for the region. The food and drink sector as a whole is such an important part of Dumfries and Galloway’s economy – so we must do everything we can to promote our premium produce.

“The strength of our farming industry would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of the farmers who work tirelessly to produce high quality meat.

“That hard work and premium product is recognised by the protection given by the EU to the Scotch Lamb brand and we will be working hard to continue that protection in the future.

“I’m pleased the SNP Scottish Government are supporting this year’s campaign which will help encourage consumers to buy Scotch lamb as part of their regular shopping.”

Jim McLaren, Quality Meat Scotland's Chairman, said:

"Today's announcement by the First Minister is fantastic news for the Scottish sheep industry and it's a great boost for our producers.

"This additional funding will enhance our comprehensive marketing and public relations Scotch Lamb PGI campaign, which is due to launch at the end of August.

"The eight-week campaign will spread the word to Scottish consumers about the quality, taste and versatility of Scotch Lamb - the perfect mid-week meal."

MSP celebrates region’s agricultural sector at Dumfries Show

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine celebrated the success of Dumfries and Galloway’s agricultural sector as she attended the annual Dumfries Show last Saturday (August 3rd).

The SNP MSPmet with representatives from Scotland’s Rural College, NFU Scotland, and Dumfries and Galloway Dairy Women’s Network.

Commenting Ms McAlpine said:

“The Dumfries Show is always an enjoyable day, and a staple of any local MSP or MP’s calendar. This year was a packed show and a huge success.

“On Saturday I was delighted to meet with staff from the SRUC to learn more about their Veterinary Nursing degree – the first degree course to be offered at Barony Campus. There are still a few spaces left for this year, so anyone with an interest can have a look at the College’s website or go along to the Open Day on August 9th.

“I also took the opportunity to attend the NFU Scotland stand – where a reception was held celebrating the success of Dumfries and Galloway Dairy Women’s Network; the Health and Wellbeing in the Farming Community Project and the region’s Retired Farming Social Group – one year on from their launch.

 

“The agricultural sector is so important to the region, and we are lucky to have so many enterprising individuals developing sustainable businesses. It was fantastic to have an opportunity to celebrate and highlight that.”