Call for Government support for local farmers markets

Peter Peacock, Highlands and Islands regional Labour MSP, is to call for more government support for local food and farmers markets in the Highlands and Islands.

His call will come in a debate (Wednesday) in the Scottish Parliament on local food.

Peter Peacock said,

"The Highlands and Islands has some of the finest quality local produce anywhere in the world.

"Our area is world renowned for its salmon, shellfish, beef and venison, among many other quality products.

"While we have built up international markets for Highlands and Islands products and need to do still more to grow those markets, we also need to do significantly more to build our local markets.

"Farmers markets have become a very important outlet for local producers of meat and vegetables and a range of other products, like honey and cheeses.

"The more these markets can be built up, the more opportunities for local farmers and other local producers and those who are adding value locally to produce.

"There has been an encouraging growth in farmers markets, but I want to see that go much further.

"On the day the government are unveiling their strategy for Scottish food, I want to urge them to put real resources behind developing local markets and taking them to a new level, working with local producers to build and develop new opportunities.

"The government should be encouraging HIE to give more strategic support to this as a key economic objective for our region."

Peter Peacock is also expected to praise the many efforts to build local food by, for example, the Highlands and Islands Food Network and Highland Feast, the regions food festival, and Living Food, a celebration of organic and sustainable production at Cawdor Castle.

Peter Peacock added, "There have been some truly outstanding initiatives in recent years by local food producers.

"Every initiative helps build the profile of local food at its best and needs to be a bigger and bigger feature of our regions profile for tourism.

"Many people now build their holiday and weekend breaks around trying distinctive local food and there is nowhere better than in the Highlands and Islands that we can cater for their needs and interests.

"We just need to give the issue more attention, the resources needed to grow the markets and it can be a bigger part of our future economic success.

"But its not just for tourists, local consumers are more aware than ever of the environmental and health benefits of local and organic food production and sale, so the opportunities for local producers will grow.

"People want to know the source of their food and they want to try different local specialities, we need more support to let them do so and the government have a clear role here to help."


6 November 2007

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