14 September 2006

S2M-4590 Local Food is Miles Better Campaign

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 14 September 2006

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]

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Local Food is Miles Better Campaign

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Trish Godman): The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S2M-4590, in the name of John Scott, on the Farmers Weekly local food is miles better campaign.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament supports the Farmers Weekly's Local Food is Miles Better campaign; believes that buying locally grown food is an excellent way for consumers to reconnect with farmers and develop a better understanding of where their food comes from; recognises that producing and buying food locally from farmers' markets and farm shops can help the environment, boost the local economy and restore trust in food production; further recognises that locally produced food is likely to be fresher, healthier and have higher vitamin levels, and considers that all food retail outlets, in Ayrshire and throughout Scotland, should promote, label and stock more locally produced food to cut food miles and carbon emissions in order to protect our environment and support our farmers.


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Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I draw members' attention to the voluntary entry in my register of interests. That is relevant, because my neighbour, who keeps some sheep in my field, passes me some of the fruits of his labours. That food travels approximately 50m from the field to my plate, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

That is a model for the excellent work that John Scott kicked off very early doors in promoting Scottish farmers markets. Indeed, it is likely that I first met John Scott in person during the Ayr by-election—I was with our candidate, who was Jim Mather—at the farmers market, where John Scott worked with his late wife, who we miss. She was a charming lady.

In my constituency, there are many primary food producers who are required to interact with supermarkets. For example, white fish is landed at Peterhead, the biggest white-fish port in Europe, and pelagic fish is landed at Fraserburgh. It costs £700 for a lorry to take the fish down to the supermarkets' distribution centres in the north of England, only for that fish to be returned to Tesco's store in Fraserburgh. Yes, the fish is transported all the way down to the north of England and back again. That is quite absurd. That money could be invested in supporting quality local producers without in any sense putting a penny on the price of food on the plate.

My face lights up whenever my wife, in discussing the coming week's food consumption, asks, "Would you like mince?" Mince is a staple of the Scottish diet.

Christine Grahame (South of Scotland) (SNP): Mince is also a staple of this Parliament.

Stewart Stevenson: However, mince is under threat from European regulations, which will require that it be produced within a day of slaughter. I hope that the minister can do something about that.

I am gravely concerned about one aspect of the Tories' attitude to this subject. I feel that they have been undermining the food producers. The loss of some 9 stone from the Tory benches is, if translated into steak, equivalent to approximately £1,000 in revenue that Mr Johnstone has taken out of local butchers.

Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland) (Con) rose—

Stewart Stevenson: I do not have time to give way to Mr Johnstone but, in all seriousness, I congratulate him on a spectacular achievement. I hope that he now eats locally produced vegetables, such as lettuce from Kettle Produce in Fife, to sustain his spectacular reduction.

However, the fillet steak was a bigger revenue earner for the local butcher, so you never know.


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