As always, I’m glad to be writing my regular column for the Turriff Advertiser and I’m delighted to have the honour of my column being published in this particular issue.
However I’m sad that this will be the final issue of the Turriff Advertiser in print.
Highland News Media and their staff will continue to report on local issues through the Grampian Online website – which has been publishing Turriff Advertiser content for a number of years now.
The Turriff Advertiser (known locally as ‘The Squeak’) was founded in 1933 and published by W. Peters & Son, followed later by the Inverurie Advertiser (1952) and Ellon Advertiser (1957) – both of which are sadly also going out of print.
The Turriff Advertiser was the first newspaper I remember seeing as a child – my most enduring memory being the ‘Grampian Tractors Ltd.’ advert regularly seen along the paper’s title which had a picture of a 1970s David Brown tractor – the same as we had on the farm.
I’d like to wish Editor David Porter and all the staff all the very best and thank them for keeping up such high-quality local coverage – which I look forward to keeping up with online.
Recently, I sought an update on the long-standing issue of the European Union refusing to accept seed potato exports from the UK.
The Northern Ireland Protocol means seed potatoes cannot be exported there either – despite being part of the United Kingdom.
The issue is entirely down to the intransigence of the EU Commission.
Quality and standards have not changed since before Brexit but, despite a high demand on the continent, the EU Commission still refuse to allow imports.
I’m told that they even admitted to NFU Scotland that there is no good reason for this other than to ‘punish’ the United Kingdom for leaving the EU.
I asked Northern Ireland Minister, Steve Baker MP, for an update on negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He confirmed to The House that it was “unacceptable that essential goods used successfully in Northern Ireland for generations – like seed potatoes – can no longer reach people in Northern Ireland.
“The idea that it should be difficult to get seed potatoes to into Northern Ireland is quite absurd.
“Of course, it would diminish the quality of potatoes across the European Union if this issue is not resolved, which we would like to do by negotiation.”
I also had the opportunity to ask new International Trade Minister – and fellow Aberdeenshire Scottish Conservative MP – Andrew Bowie, what his department were doing to support entry for Scottish Seed Potatoes into new markets.
As well as significant markets outside the EU likeEgypt and Morocco, additional markets are sought and support provided through UK Department for International Trade (DIT) Scotland, based in Edinburgh.
Current and potential exporters in Scotland have access to a wide range of DIT services to access new markets.
These include exporting masterclasses via the Export Academy, support to visit and exhibit at global trade shows via the UK Tradeshow programme and Agri-Tech portal, The Export Support Service, the digital GREAT.gov.uk platform, UK Export Finance and a network of domestic and overseas trade advisers – all made available by the UK Government in Scotland.
If you or your business are interested in accessing any of these services, please get in touch.
Wishing all of you all the very best for 2023.