SCOTLAND’S food and drink industry “will be in safe hands” under the SNP if Scotland becomes independent, according to the nation’s only two-star Michelin chef Andrew Fairlie.
Fairlie has welcomed a new Scottish Government report setting out the “five gains” of Scottish independence for the sector.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said that “only independence will ensure Scotland can protect our primary producers, put Scottish food and drink interests first in our trade discussions with the EU and other countries, and allow Scotland to focus on gaining access to priority growing markets where demand for first-class Scottish products continues to increase”.
“Independence will open new doors and access to new markets for our produce,” he said.
“It will break down trade barriers and allow Scotland to target our own priority markets and capitalise quickly on emerging opportunities and demand from countries for our produce, without having to ask Westminster to do it for us or be held hostage to their timescales as at present.
“It will give us our own voice in Europe, a far stronger voice than we could ever have in the current set-up and a voice which will finally be able to make the case - loudly and proudly - for Scottish priorities.
“A voice which will fight to secure the future of primary production in Scotland and to secure the future of our fishing fleet and the communities that depend on our fishing industry to survive.
“It will give us more resources and the ability to use Scotland’s levy income revenue to promote Scotland’s produce and be targeted to support the very people - Scotland’s fantastic food & drink sector and the farmers, fishermen and crofters - that supply it.
“This is in stark contrast to the current situation where levy paid by both our farmers and our fishermen is used to promote the produce of our competitors - a ridiculous situation which has been continued by the UK Government despite complaints from the Scottish Government.
“Independence will also allow us to benefit from country-of-origin labelling and to ensure that Scotland’s food and drink companies benefit from the strong provenance of their produce.”
Mr Fairlie, a board member at Yes Scotland, said: “Scotland is the envy of the world in terms of quality produce and I know chefs around the globe who are jealous of what we have here.
“The current Scottish Government has done a lot to support and promote the food and drink sector, and I am certain that with independence the industry will be in safe hands and continue to get the backing it richly deserves.”