NFU Scotland will host an elections hustings event at the Douglas Arms Hotel, Castle Douglas on 19 April to provide a platform for debate and allow its members to make an informed decision in the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May.
The Dumfries and Galloway hustings, open to all NFU Scotland members from the area, is one of 12 being held across the country to allow members to engage with political parties ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections. Candidates from all the main Scottish parties standing in the region in May will be attending.
Following a difficult year for the farming and crofting sector, the views of those with interests in rural affairs have never been more important. And as agriculture, rural affairs, food and environment policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, this election is even more relevant to the agricultural sector, and the rural vote cannot be underestimated. The Union is encouraging its members to take the time to meet and put questions to the candidates vying for their votes in this important election.
NFU Scotland formally launched its manifesto this week, detailing key policy areas it wishes to see Scottish parliamentarians address in the new parliament. These include a support system fit for the future, land reform and biodiversity, making the food chain work, sharing in the success of Scotland’s good food story, supporting crofting and assistance in managing costs.
NFU Scotland’s Regional Chairman for Dumfries and Galloway, Gary Mitchell commented: “This election comes at an unprecedented time for farmers in Dumfries and Galloway. Global forces added to the well-versed problems concerning delivery of support payments have combined to create a perfect storm.
“That was the key message that politicians took away from NFU Scotland’s rally at the Scottish Parliament in March, where a significant number of farmers and businesses from the region were represented. Now is the time for us to ask our politicians whether they can step up to the plate and fight for farming and the food and drink sector within the sea of other voices.
“Seventeen years on from the advent of devolution in Scotland, rural affairs and agricultural policy has become ingrained within Scottish political life. We have enjoyed a good working relationship with our MSPs across the political spectrum, regularly hosting well-established meetings across the region.
“We look forward to continuing this close and very positive engagement in the new parliament, and to welcoming the candidates fighting for a seat at Holyrood at this event so they can inform the members of their plans to take forward the interests of Dumfries and Galloway and the rest of rural Scotland.”