Scottish MEP goes on tour

Scottish farmers will be asked what they really think about EU policy over the next couple of months, as Scotland's agriculture MEP Alyn Smith goes on tour.

The provocatively named 'Ask me, Tell me, Chin me' tour has been organised by NFU Scotland (NFUS) and will comprise of a number of farmer surgeries around Scotland, one in each of the NFUS regions.

The meetings will offer the opportunity for NFUS members and press to raise any issues of concern over the EU, ask what is under way in Brussels and demand changes to EU policies.

Smith said: "I'm delighted NFUS has been able to set this up, and pleased as ever to be working closely with them. After 16 months on the Agriculture Committee I hope I have a pretty good handle on my remit, but there is no substitute for getting out and speaking to the people who work in the industry.

"We're being slightly provocative with the title of the programme, but that is the idea. I'll make myself available to the members in every NFUS region, with no subjects or issues off limits.

"I think that there is a recognition among the farmers of Scotland that the SNP government in Scotland is making a real difference to farming and rural life, and as an SNP MEP I'm proud to be representing Scotland in the Agriculture Committee.

"But we can always do more, and there are certainly plenty of real issues in the pipeline here in Brussels. I urge any NFU members who have any questions or problems they want to discuss with me to come along to their nearest surgery."

Jim McClaren, NFUS president, said: "Many Scots find it difficult to understand the complicated workings of the European Union institutions and yet their effect on Scottish farming is hugely significant.

"We recognise the vital work Alyn Smith carries out on behalf of all Scottish farmers and his grasp of the issues is second-to-none.

"Alyn Smith is giving up nine days of his summer recess to spend with members in each of NFU Scotland's nine regions and I hope that many of our members will participate in their nearest event, as it is such a good opportunity to put across any issues you may have.

"NFU Scotland is in frequent contact with the country's seven MEPs and we are fortunate that they work very well together as a team."

The surgeries are open to any NFU members and are taking place on the following dates:

11th June - Inverness (Highland region)

12th June - Edinburgh (Lothian region)

13th June - Stirling (Forth & Clyde region)

27th June - Perth (East Central region)

21st July - Dumfries (Dumfries & Galloway region)

23rd July - Ayr (Ayrshire region)

25th July - Oban (Argyll & Islands region)

28th July - Aberdeen (North-East region)

30th July - Lerwick (Orkney & Shetland region)

Anyone wishing to attend or requiring further information should get in touch with Sarah Anderson at NFU Scotland on 0131 472 4010.

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