Letters, October 1 2021

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Shocking vandalism from youngsters

On Monday last week I was walking along Main Street as the high school students were making their way home and a young student pulled out one of the plants from the pot outside Wee Toon Trends and, after knocking the soil off, he threw it at his friends.

I told him to pick it up and replant it, which he did.

The boy is the exception rather than the norm but his behaviour reflects badly on the whole school and I hope he has learnt his lesson.

The shopkeepers are making an effort to brighten up the town’s appearance but incidents like this will discourage them.

Name and address supplied.

Is UK Government really backing British farming?

NFU Scotland is calling on the UK Government to address the nation’s growing labour crisis, which is undermining all parts of the food and drink supply chain, leading to significant losses on some Scottish farms and resulting in a growing number of empty shop shelves.

The #BackBritishFarmingDay on September 15 came as a UK Government announcement of a free trade ‘agreement in principle’ between the UK and New Zealand is believed to be imminent.

Having agreed in June to provide unfettered access in the future to Australia, the cumulative impact of another deal with a major exporting nation has huge significance for Scottish farmers and crofters.

With so much to celebrate about the quality and standards of our food and drink, #BackBritishFarmingDay was a fantastic opportunity to thank the nation for their incredible support throughout Brexit and Covid-19.

NFU Scotland, both independently and in conjunction with the Scottish food and drink industry, has written several times to UK Government calling for measures that address the shortfall in both seasonal and permanent staff.

Should it fail to do so, I have absolutely no doubt that the situation will deteriorate further.

It is galling to hear that the UK Government is on the verge of signing up to another free trade deal that will permit a growing level of imports while delivering very little to our food and drink sector in return.

The blunt fact is that neither deal has been afforded any kind of proper parliamentary scrutiny as the government’s promised Statutory Trade and Agriculture Commission has yet to be established.

Safeguards against market disruption are also promised, but the cumulative impact of these deals will be profound for UK farming.

If handled badly, these may make it impossible for some of our family farming businesses to continue to compete with high levels of low-cost imports produced to standards that would not be allowed here.

Martin Kennedy, president, NFU Scotland.