Richard Lochhead is in Brussels today (Friday 5 September) to attend an extraordinary meeting of EU Agrifish Council which has been convened to discuss the impact of the Russian ban on European food exports.
The Cabinet Secretary is set to push for the pelagic fish sector to be a priority for European-wide action in the face of Russian trade sanctions. The ban covers food products including fish and seafood, beef, pork, poultry, cured meats, sausages, milk and dairy products and fruit and vegetables. Scotland currently exports around £45 million of food and drink to Russia annually - £22 million of this export total is of food products affected by the ban. The Scottish mackerel industry is expected to be most directly affected – with up to 20% of mackerel processed in Scotland going directly to Russia.
Whilst in Brussels Mr Lochhead will also discuss issues around CAP reform with Commissioner Ciolos.
The Cabinet Secretary said: “This CAP reform is the most complex ever, and although Scotland’s implementation plans are well underway we still need clarification from Europe on several crucial points – most notably on greening where we are awaiting important elements of the fine detail. I am concerned that implementing such radical CAP reforms without the European clarity we need could result in unforeseen consequences for Scottish farming and food production. I have already written to Commissioner Ciolos asking for measures that would allow administrations to carry out a ‘health check’ on all aspects of CAP implementation partway through the CAP period and I will reiterate this request at today's meeting.”