McAlpine leads debate on food and drink in D&G

South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine today (Thursday) led a debate in the Scottish Parliament celebrating Dumfries and Galloway’s vibrant Food and Drink Sector.

The SNP MSP’s debate drew support from across the chamber, as members from different political parties came together to praise the region’s contribution to ‘the Year of Food and Drink.’

Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead was delighted to accept an invitation from Ms McAlpine to visit the newly restored Annandale Distillery, and Scotland’s Artisan Food Trail.

Ms McAlpine highlighted the roles of newly founded organisation ‘D&G Food and Drink’. She said:

“Recognition of the sector’s importance has resulted in the creation of D&G Food and Drink, led by marketing expert Lorna Young. It is a business information support service provided on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway Council and it caters for all aspects of the industry from production to retail and hospitality. 

“One example of this support is Scotland’s Artisan Food Trail, which is financed with £15,000 from the council and £15,000 from the Scottish Government’s Community Food Fund.”

She added:

“Here is just a taster of what’s on offer.

“Kilnford, is a large mixed farm at Ingleston. It has a farm shop with a famed delicatessen as well as a restaurant and a nature trail which attract visitors from miles around. Barony Country Foods offer a wide variety of fish poultry and game and operate a traditional Scottish smokehouse – and the produce can be bought online.

“Cream O’ Galloway ice cream also offers a very attractive visitor experience alongside its delicious product, as indeed does Drummuir Farm Ice Cream in the village of Collin.

“Then there is the award winning Criffel Cheese from Loch Arthur, made by residents of the Camphill Community. I could add to that several chocolatiers, including the extremely creative Abbots in Langholm and Liz Cole in Moniaive.

“We also have Scotland’s newest whisky producer, Annandale Distillery. It lay derelict after closing in 1918 until it was lovingly restored by Professor David Thomson and his wife Teresa. The distillery’s location makes it first in Scotland and it will act as a gateway to Dumfries and Galloway itself. Can I respectfully suggest to the Cabinet Secretary that he visit Annandale – he would find it a very satisfying experience and a great way to experience the food trail himself.

Ms McAlpine also used the debate to highlight the crisis facing cider producers Waulkmill, in Langholm.

She said:

“In Langholm, Waulkmill produces a 100% Scottish craft cider from traditionally grown apples and pears. The business, like other small cider producers, plays a vital role in preserving ancient orchards and apple varieties.

“However, Waulkmill like other craft cider producers is under threat despite the best efforts of local and national government here in Scotland. The UK currently has a duty exemption for small scale cider producers dating back to the time of chancellor Dennis Healy.

“Now the EU want the UK to drop the exemption, which could put many of these producers out of business. DG Food and Drink believe the UK Government could fight the EU proposition by highlighting the fragile, traditional and localised nature of craft cider production in their response to the EU. Anything the Minister could do to help by pointing out to the Treasury that Scotland is also affected by the ruling would be most welcome in Dumfriesshire.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead Closed the debate, saying:

“I congratulate Joan McAlpine on securing a fantastic debate this afternoon.

“Food and Drink in Dumfries and Galloway, and across Scotland is a sector which is growing in strength and stature, and is now world renowned.

“In Scotland we are enjoying a Food and drink revolution. And in Dumfries and Galloway we have some of the most fantastic food - tasty, fresh, environmentally sustainable.

“Dumfries and Galloway has one of Scotland’s richest larders, and there is no doubt that the region is playing a huge role in the year of Food and Drink in Scotland.

“I look forward to visiting the area and sampling some of the fine food and drink myself.”

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