A study commissioned by the Scottish government has found high levels of support for the farming industry among the Scottish public.
The research, published in advance of the 2019 Royal Highland Show – an annual agricultural festival, which will take place in Edinburgh between 20 and 23 June – shows that 83% of Scots who responded to the survey believe agriculture represents an ‘essential’ public service. 86% of respondents said the farming industry was ‘critical’ to Scotland’s economic success. A growing number expressed strong levels of support for sustainable and local food production practices. 68% of Scots expressed concern over the economic impact of Brexit on food production and farming in Scotland, with participants raising the issue of agricultural funding and a potential decline in both the quality and availability of food once the UK has left the EU.
Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Farmers produce our food; they are the custodians of our countryside and are at the beating heart of our rural economy, so it is really pleasing to see the widespread recognition they are receiving. The public are clear that they want to see more produce grown locally as well as the protection of animal welfare and food standards – particularly if we leave the EU. The public also want greater emphasis on environmental protection and more jobs, opportunities and support for rural areas. These are all areas we and the farming industry are committed to maintaining as we seek to grow our rural economy. So, as we look to celebrate the success of Scottish farming and the wider rural economy at the Royal Highland Show, it is absolutely fantastic to see this level of support for our farmers and crofters.”
Representatives of eight UK government departments will attend the Royal Highland Show to demonstrate their support for farming in Scotland and promote awareness of Scotland-specific government initiatives. Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who will host a whisky reception at the event, said: “The Royal Highland Show is an important opportunity for the UK Government to hear views from farmers and others in the rural economy, and for us to talk about our plans to support them. Agriculture is vital to Scotland’s economy, and I look forward to discussing with the industry and show-goers how the UK Government can help the sector flourish.”