30 June 2016

(S5O-00083) Dairy Production (North East Scotland)

3. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to ensure the sustainable future of dairy production in North East Scotland. (S5O-00083)

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity (Fergus Ewing): Although dairy farming is centred mainly in the south-west of Scotland, it also occupies an important place in the economy of the north-east. As the member will know, the industry faces a number of market-driven pressures, which we have been seeking to address with stakeholders. Dairy farming in the north-east of Scotland, as in other parts of the country, can be maintained only if our excellent producers receive a fair return for their efforts.

Although it will ultimately be down to the market to deliver that, the Scottish Government is on the front foot, with a range of initiatives that are aimed at boosting resilience in these challenging times, including the creation of the Scottish dairy growth board and support for the online Scottish dairy hub. We will also be involved in an industry-led working group that will consider what support can be given in the short to medium term.

Stewart Stevenson: Does the Scottish Government encourage the actions of the National Farmers Union Scotland, Opportunity North East and Aberdeenshire Council to commission a study into alternative dairy processing options in the north-east? If so, does the Government consider that that local initiative can be a vital component of ensuring support for the dairy industry in the area that I represent?

Fergus Ewing: Yes, I very much agree with that. I have had the pleasure of meeting the NFU on several occasions since I was appointed, most recently yesterday. I am conscious of Opportunity North East and Sir Ian Wood’s extremely generous gesture of support and his interest in promoting innovation in farming. As Stewart Stevenson well knows, there is of course already a huge amount of innovation in farming, especially in the dairy sector and particularly in diversification into higher-profit-margin products in recent years by a variety of companies. I am determined to work with members of all parties and the industry to address the serious challenges that currently face the dairy sector in Scotland.

16 June 2016

Statement: Policing and Security

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): Many incidents that happen in local communities across Scotland could not reasonably be foreseen through intelligence and stem from the actions of a single individual. Is the cabinet secretary satisfied that there are adequate ways in which local commanders can get access to the new resource that he has announced today?

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Michael Matheson): Part of the work that Police Scotland has been undertaking over the past couple of months has been to look at the changing nature of the threat, and there is no doubt that the incidents that we witnessed in Paris in particular highlighted that changing nature, in that several different incidents took place simultaneously. That has led to a reassessment of how policing resource should be deployed in order to prepare for such an event, should it occur. However, the resource will be deployed by Police Scotland on the basis of where it believes the greatest risk is presented. The model is constantly reviewed and it reflects the information that Police Scotland has.

I assure the member that the uplift in resource will provide a greater level of coverage across the whole of Scotland and will ensure that all communities have the armed officer provision that is necessary and appropriate to the situation and the risk in the area. Police Scotland reviews that regularly, based on the information and intelligence that it receives.

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