Under the SNP, the global reputation of Scotland’s larder has soared with food and drink becoming one of the biggest contributors to our economy.
Since 2007, turnover has increased and is now worth £13.5 billion annually; food and drink exports have increased by 70 per cent with Scottish salmon being the UK’s biggest food export; and iconic Scotch whisky is now sold in over 200 countries.
Our membership of the EU has helped support this growth. Through CAP, we have been able to provide grants to over 220 food processing and manufacturing projects creating over 900 jobs, safeguarding 4500 more and leveraging over £200 million private investment.
We export £6 billion worth of food and drink annually, with the rest of the EU buying 40 per cent of our produce, courtesy of the free trade offered through Single Market membership.
And the EU has helped us protect Scotland the brand – through its Protected Geographical Indicators, we’ve seen these grow by 75 per cent since 2007. This ensures that the reputation of world famous produce like Scotch whisky, Arbroath smokies, Scotch beef or Ayrshire Dunlop cheese, produced in my own constituency, is protected.
Now, we are having to fight as never before to prevent Brexit stalling our global food and drink success story. That success has been built primarily on provenance and our ability to provide Scottish solutions to meet Scotland’s interests.
For example, banning the cultivation of GM crops; developing the Scotch beef, Scotch lamb and specially selected pork brands through marketing, promotion and labelling; and using the trust in the quality of Scottish produce to ensure our raspberries, langoustines, scallops and potatoes grace the best chefs’ kitchens and restaurant tables around the world.
This is what the power grab means in practice. Losing the right and the ability potentially to market Scottish produce as Scottish, to protect its provenance, to prevent unhelpful practices finding their way into our food chain, to offer the distinction that people all around the UK, in the EU and beyond look for when they buy Scottish food and drink products.
There is no need nor requirement to do this, for the UK to take control of the legislative powers over some of these matters. We already face losing tariff free access to the Single Market and potentially thousands of EU nationals who help harvest, process and make our produce. It will be harder still to protect our brand if we lose the ability and right to be and trade as Scottish. So why might the Tories want to legislate for all the UK on such matters?
To homogenise these islands. To create a post Brexit Britain in their own image. To remove our sense of who we are and aspire to be. To get a slice of our action. To claim what is Scotland’s as their own. We cannot let any of it happen.
Alan Brown is MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee at Westminster.