The food and drink sector has been one of the areas hardest hit by Covid-19, with forecasts predicting up to £3bn in revenue lost
Scottish farmers have welcomed a new £5 million fund to help the country's food and drink sector recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A new joint industry and government plan containing more than 50 actions has been developed to assist in stimulating demand for produce in key markets.
The actions support all sectors of Scotland’s food and drink industry, including agriculture, as they recover from the pandemic and prepare for Brexit.
The food and drink sector, which is seen as a success story of Scotland’s economy, has been one of the areas hardest hit by Covid-19, with forecasts predicting up to £3bn in revenue lost this year alone.
The Scottish government said the lack of clarity regarding a Brexit deal would amplify those challenges.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: Particularly in many of our rural areas, the sector creates highly paid, highly skilled jobs and contributes directly to the public purse in taxes.
Food and drink businesses have shown resilience and innovation in responding to the pandemic, from finding new routes to market themselves or in the actions they have taken to support their workforce and keep food on our tables, Ewing said. However, in addition to the many challenges presented by Covid-19, we now need to prepare for the disruption and uncertainty the end of the transition period will bring in just six weeks’ time.
NFU Scotland has welcomed the fund's announcement as it would bring an 'opportunity to bolster domestic sales'.
The union is a member of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, which has a shared ambition to grow the reputation and value of the industry.
NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said: Farming, food and drink are huge Scottish success stories. The tens of thousands who work within these industries are justifiably proud of our strong reputation and the high quality of products we produce.
This investment from Scottish government in the food and drink sector give us the opportunity to bolster domestic sales and fulfil our ambition to increase exports of our high-quality food and drink offering abroad, Walker said. This will help create jobs and opportunities which is vital for our recovery during these uncertain times.
He said the funding would give impetus to the 50-point Recovery Plan, a collaboration between farmers, fishermen, industry and Scottish government.
The plan will help in creating a more resilient farming sector through profitable growth while making an even greater contribution to a fairer, greener Scotland, Mr Walker said.