SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to unlock the economic potential of Scotland’s rural and island communities, announcing that if re-elected the SNP Government will establish a £5 million fund to promote island and regional food brands.
The funding will be used to overcome any barriers to growth that rural food producers may face, as well as exploring new markets for their produce at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon described the devolution of marine Crown Estate revenues to Scotland’s coastal and island communities as “a welcome, long-overdue move” which the SNP had long advocated.
Under SNP plans, when Crown Estate management is devolved to Scotland, communities will get to keep 100% of net marine revenues from along their coasts and have greater say in the management of those marine resources.
Commenting, Ms Sturgeon said:
“The SNP has presided over a huge increase in the success of the food and drink sector. Food and drink exports have increased by 43% and we have increased sales of Scottish food and drink brands by 36%.
“Our Community Food Fund is helping to promote food tourism, farmers’ markets and food festivals, and we’ve increased the number of protected food names.
“Of course, this success is testament to the first class quality of the produce for which our country is famous and if re-elected an SNP Government will build further on that success by setting up a £5 million fund to promote island and regional food and drink brands at home and around the world.”
Added SNP Candidate Kenneth Gibson:
"This fund will be used to increase marketing opportunities for our rural food and drink brands, explore new export opportunities and provide investment. It will be particularly beneficial to ambitious companies on Arran who are keen to grow and export.
“New powers coming to the Scottish Parliament will be utilised to full effect. Our plans to ensure local communities benefit fully from Crown Estate revenues is one the SNP has long advocated and will be a great boon to Arran.
“It is only by fully unlocking the economic potential of our rural and island communities that we can truly build a fairer and more prosperous Scotland. If the SNP is re-elected in May, we will use all of the powers at our disposal to make that happen.”