South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has rebutted what she has branded inaccurate and misleading claims made by Galloway and West Dumfries MSP, with regards to Scottish Government support for the dairy sector in Scotland.

In a press release issued yesterday by the Conservative MSP, he claimed that the Scottish Government has not provided any support to the Scottish dairy sector during COVID-19and made an inaccurate statement which credited the UK Government with a consultation into dairy sector contracts across the UK.

This consultation, which Ms Harper has welcomed and previously encouraged dairy farmers to provide input to, was in fact a consultation jointly agreed by both the Scottish and UK Governments.

In her rebuttal, the South Scotland MSP also set the record straight on support from the Scottish Government to the Scottish dairy sector – support which was agreed in close consultation with both the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and the Scottish Dairy Hub.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I am disappointed that Mr Carson chose to use his position in the local media to wilfully mislead our constituents across Dumfries and Galloway about support which has been put in place to support hardworking dairy farmers. Indeed, it is shameful that he has also omitted to give credit to the Scottish Government – a joint partner in the UK wide consultation into dairy contracts.

“It is entirely misleading to say that the Scottish Government has not supported the dairy sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the Scottish dairy sector has been one of the least affected parts of Scotland’s food and drink sector – particularly compared to that of other parts of the UK.

“Compensation schemes introduced in England and Wales have only helped a very small group of the worst affected dairy farmers. This includes those who did not have their milk collected and saw massive cuts to the milk price – this has not yet happened in Scotland. The Scottish Government consulted closely with the dairy sector, including the NFUS, who did not want a similar scheme for Scotland.

“Given that the NFUS and the Scottish Dairy Hub made it clear that they did not want a support scheme similar to England – facts which fly in the face of Mr Carson’s comments – the Scottish Government worked constructively with the sector to help introduce a suite of agreed practical measures. This includes temporary easement of competition law requirements to allow industry to share more data and work closer together, as well as financial support to the joint Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Dairy UK marketing campaign to encourage more consumption dairy products. I promoted and participated in the #MilkYourMoments campaign through my own social media and local press.

“I would strongly urge Mr Carson to reconsider his misleading comments, and set the record straight and actually support our hard working constituents in Scotland’s dairy sector.”