The Scottish Government is being criticised for giving the Scottish pig sector the ‘cold shoulder’, after ‘vital’ support requests remain unacknowledged.
In a blog post written by Jamie Wyllie, the NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee chair, he describes the pig sector’s situation as ‘dire’ and says that the industry’s only chance of survival is with “help from the government.”
However, according to Mr Wyllie, NFUS is yet to receive a response from the Scottish Government, despite having written to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and cabinet secretary Mairi Gougeon, and NFUS’ board of directors having recently raised the issue with Ms Gougeon in person.
“We have made two suggestions to Scottish Government and have received no feedback on either,” Mr Wyllie writes. “The first was a direct payment made to each pig farmer per sow to try and recover some of the losses that have been made over the last year.”
And the second was a ‘bounce back loan’ Ongoers Scheme, which would see the Scottish Government covering the interest on loans, ‘enabling us to fix the cost of our overdrafts and restructure debts that we have incurred over the last year’.
“The pig sector is an unsupported sector and we would not ask for direct support of this kind were the situation not dire. Both requests are vital to ensure the longevity of the pig industry. The first to keep us in production now and the second to allow us to manage finances to ensure future survival of the industry.”
Mr Wyllie concluded his post: “I think the lack of even a holding reply highlights exactly what value the Scottish Government places on domestic food production. The value of the food and drink sector in Scotland is worth £14 billion, one in five manufacturing jobs are employed in this sector. Is that not valuable enough to warrant at least a response?”
“We desperately need direct funding to ensure the longevity of the industry and allow us to be able to invest in the future. At the very least an acknowledgement the letter would be nice.”