MSPs have demanded that the UK Government “acts immediately” to tackle food inflation.

During a Scottish Government led debate on Thursday, MSPs discussed the impact of Brexit on the food and drink sector as well as food security. 

It comes after a dedicated food security unit was launched to monitor and mitigate potential crises in Scotland.

The motion highlighting concerns over current levels of food inflation has been passed by Holyrood.

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“Notes that the hard Brexit negotiated by the UK Government has created serious, long-term harms for the food and drink sector, creating labour shortages, new barriers to trade and failing to prioritise Scottish interests in third country trade deals,” the motion read.

It added that the climate emergency was also having an impact on food production in Scotland, and insisted that Westminster “holds the majority of powers and levers to support consumers and the food sector”, demanding the UK Government “act immediately to help”.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon (pictured below) told MSPs that the “avoidable disruption” of Brexit was “foisted” on Scotland.

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“It was the Tories' choice to pursue a hard Brexit, removing us from the EU, the single market, and the custom’s union,” she added.

“As well as causing trade disruption it’s caused significant workforce recruitment and retention issues in Scotland’s food and drink sector.

“And of course now, Labour is also committed to Brexit, and apparently thinks it can make the unworkable work despite all the evidence showing the Brexit is making our economy poorer.”

The Cabinet Secretary added that exports had fallen, from a 38% fall in fruit and veg exports to a 7% fall in dairy and egg exports.

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“Thanks to the Tory’s hard Brexit products like seed potatoes and chilled means can no longer be exported to the EU at all, cutting off high quality Scottish produce from this important market entirely, with that knock on impact for food security in those countries.”

MSPs approved the Scottish Government motion by 83 votes to 2.

A Labour amendment, which said it was “unacceptable” that “so many people are living in food poverty and relying on food banks was also approved by 83 votes to 28.

The National: EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 22: Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton speaking during the debate on the controversial Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was passed at the end of a specially extended session of the Scottish

But a Conservative amendment stating that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in global food inflation, adding that the UK Government had “recently announced steps to mitigate this” was defeated by 28 votes to 83.

Former deputy first minister John Swinney intervened as Rachael Hamilton (pictured above), Tory MSP and rural affairs spokesperson, spoke against the Scottish Government's motion.

He asked if she was aware of comments by NFU’s Scotland’s horticulture convener, Ian Brown, who said: “Crops are rotting in the fields in our country because there aren’t the workers to harvest those products, and the Home Secretary’s rhetoric is making the situation worse.”

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Hamilton replied: “The SNP need to use the powers that we have, we heard today from my colleague Murdo Fraser that there’s more inward migration than ever, even the First Minister recognised that and said we need to attract more people to Scotland to live and to work.

“What I would say to the FM is sort out the issues of depopulation, sort out the issues of not providing workers with rural housing, and actually support the rural economy.”

A Liberal Democrat amendment, raising concerns that the aquaculture and fisheries sectors are “at risk of disruption from Brexit, unreliable ferry services and the Scottish Government’s approach to Highly Protected Marine Area proposals” was also voted down by 49 votes to 62.