First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces £1m Good Food Futures programme

The Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh provides an excellent showcase of modern rural life in Scotland.

It is also a welcome chance to celebrate the success of one of our most important economic sectors – food and drink.

Everywhere you go there is fantastic locally sourced produce available to taste and buy.

Scotland already enjoys a global reputation for quality food and drink. I want that to grow, which is why we are investing £5 million to support a new food and drink export plan.

But it is vital that children here also benefit from healthy, locally produced food. That is at the heart of being a Good Food Nation.

I was delighted to launch a new Good Food Futures programme today, which will provide a range of education activities from the early years through to young adulthood.

The £1 million funding will also provide more farm visits for more children, so they grow up understanding where their food comes from.

And the programme will seek to encourage more young people to choose careers in food related work.

Ensuring that people have the right skills is key to helping rural businesses and industries succeed – a new rural skills toolkit launched at the show is designed to do just that.

And it is people who are key to ensuring our rural communities and economy thrive. Farmers in particular play a pivotal role in producing food and protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Many are already playing their part using technology and more sustainable farming methods and land use. There is more they can do but only if we see them as part of the solution to our climate change challenges.

When I became First Minister, I acknowledged that we needed to sort out our payments system that supports farmers and food producers.

Every year since, we have made progress. This year, payments across a range of the CAP schemes began being made earlier than ever before. So far, we have paid out just over £500 million to farm and crofting businesses, and into the rural economy. That is 14% more than at this stage in 2018.

Today, I also announced that we have now met the EU payment threshold of 95.24% on basic, greening and young farmer payments.

This is the earliest date this has been announced since I became First Minister.

Delivering progress on issues like this has been a key objective for the government I lead. Today, we showed that we deliver for rural Scotland.