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Stackyard News Apr 07

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    Voters Show Strong Support For Scottish Farming

In a poll conducted on behalf of BBC Scotland, voters in Scotland have shown enormous support for Scottish farming by placing it fifth in a list of important election issues.

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highland cattle

Pollsters ICM asked a balanced sample of 1,001 people in Scotland for their opinions on a list of 25 policy issues. Participants were asked to score policies from one to 10 - with one meaning they should not be pursued and 10 giving them ‘top billing’ status. Average scores were then calculated to give the final result. In first place was health and schools, followed by police, council tax, local hospitals, then farming and fishing came in fifth place.

On the back of the poll, NFUS has re-emphasised the priorities within its own election ‘manifesto’ which stresses the role farming can play in providing quality, local food, protecting Scotland’s wildlife and habitats, tackling climate change and underpinning rural communities. Over three quarters of Scotland’s landmass is farmed and agriculture contributes £1.8 billion to the nation’s economy.

NFU Scotland Vice-President, Stewart Wood, said:

“These poll results are hugely encouraging. Our relationships with both politicians and consumers are all about trying to raise awareness of farming’s potential to contribute to the big issues facing Scotland over the next four years and beyond. These efforts are clearly paying off.

“We have long believed that public support for all that farming delivers – a well tended countryside, renewable energy, high animal welfare standards, superb quality food and much more – was high and it is very encouraging to see that when push comes to shove, voters are still very much behind that. We are very grateful for their support.

“Our pre-election manifesto highlighted many of the issues facing agriculture. There are simple steps that can be taken which will safeguard the future of agriculture and the rural economy, but will also deliver huge health and environmental benefits to the nation. Our future MSPs must look again at the food we feed to our pupils and patients. Public procurement must stress that best value doesn’t mean cheapest price and put an emphasis on fresh, local food. Agriculture’s potential to contribute to the fight against climate change by the development of renewable energy needs the same financial kick-start that has benefited the industry across Europe.

“We await the election on 3 May with interest and look forward to seeing how the next Scottish Executive and Parliament tackles the challenges we have set them.”

• Full results of the poll can be viewed on the BBC website.

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National Farmers' Union