The Royal Highland Show is a showcase of Scottish farming, food and countryside. It is always a wonderful occasion, and I have been lucky enough to visit it as an MSP for a number of years, along with hundreds of thousands of other visitors. The delicious Scottish food produce, enormous farm machinery for sale, and show worthy animals make for a fantastic spectacle.
As we draw close to the introduction of the Land Reform Bill I was pleased to meet with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, an organisation devoted to enhancing the position of tenant farmers. I listened to the lived stories of members of the association, some of whom are powerless to dispute the end of their tenancies, and therefore the displacement from their home and future livelihood.
Scottish Land and Estates were also keen to discuss Land Reform in advance of the Bill’s launch. Their current campaign ‘Helping it Happen’ aims to breakdown the barrier between landowner and local communities, and highlight those with committed and supportive community links.
The RSPB exhibit was lovely space designed to educate and excite children over conservation. Though I decided not to get my face painted, I enjoyed learning more about their ‘Give Nature a Home’ campaign. The campaign offers ideas on how to provide suitable habitats for garden wildlife, from simple ideas such as a pile of dry logs or a small pond, to the more imaginative such as a B&B for bees or a hedgehog hotel!
It was great to catch up on a variety of farmers issues with Tom French at the National Farmers Union Scotland. He called for increased consultation with farmers over environmental issues, and feels daily outdoor experience is under looked, a suggestion I have taken on board.
After a busy afternoon, it was a treat to end my trip at the Scottish Agritourism Yurt, where I sampled the produce of Loch Leven, including bread, rapeseed oil, sausage rolls and a variety of dips and spreads.
As Shadow Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, the Show is a valuable opportunity for an update on a broad scope of organisations and issues. My thanks go to all the stalls I visited for the warm welcome.