Highland Show centre of European stage

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Scotland’s premier agriculture show took on an international flavour when Richard Lochhead welcomed two prominent European politicians today.

Dacian Ciolos, European Agriculture Commissioner, and Paulo de Castro, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Parliament, gained insight into what makes Scotland a world leading producer of top quality food and drink….


Scotland’s premier agriculture show took on an international flavour when Richard Lochhead welcomed two prominent European politicians today.

Dacian Ciolos, European Agriculture Commissioner, and Paulo de Castro, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Parliament, gained insight into what makes Scotland a world leading producer of top quality food and drink.

Mr Ciolos and Mr de Castro took time out of their schedules to take part in a panel discussion and Q&A session hosted by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead said:

“As we approach a crucial period for Scottish farmers and rural communities with the re-negotiation of the Common Agriculture Policy, the ability of Scotland to produce food, safeguard a vibrant agricultural sector and maintain our environment will be determined by the outcomes of these negotiations.

“The policy and the budget we negotiate in the next couple of years will determine how agriculture develops in Europe and in Scotland until 2020. These are important issues for the whole of Europe, but especially important for Scotland.

“Food and drink plays a bigger role in our economy and culture than in many parts of Europe. Because of our combination of land and climate our producers face unique challenges as they fight to address issues like global food security and reducing greenhouse gas emission.

“It is a testament to Scotland’s high profile that we have had a chance to discuss the future of agricultural support with these two politicians who, it is no exaggeration to say, are two of the most important figures in the forthcoming EU negotiations.

“I have explained to them Scotland’s distinct circumstances and policy needs on key issues including: moving away from the historic-based Single Farm Payment, linking farm payments to active farming and having a proportionate approach to audits and inspections.

“I hope today that these Mr Ciolos and Mr de Castro will take home with them warm memories of the passion and commitment this country has for producing quality food and drink. “

Dacian Ciolos was appointed Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development in early 2010. He was formerly Minister of Agriculture for Romania and has many years of experience in the sector.

Paolo de Castro, from Italy, is Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Parliament on which two Scottish MEPs sit – Alyn Smith and George Lyon. Before being elected to the European Parliament, he was Minister of Agriculture in Italy and has a long and established academic career in the sector.