CABINET Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead will be in the Borders next year at the invitation of local businesses.
The Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce has signed up the MSP to talk at the Cardrona Hotel, Peebles, on February 20.
The invitation follows the success MEP Alyn Smith’s address to chamber members, farmers and others in Kelso earlier this month.
Mr Smith, one of Scotland’s six MEPs and a member of the parliament’s Agriculture Committee, told his audience Scotland in general and the Borders in particular were in the world’s top league when it came to animal welfare standards, the application of innovative rural science and the quality of local food and drink.
He added: “There’s no doubt that a prosperous agricultural sector drives not just the rural economy, but has a huge impact right across the community and the country. Farmers buy supplies and spend their money locally, so if they’re making profits, everyone benefits.”
Afterwards, Mr Smith said: “It was a fantastic event. I really enjoyed meeting people from the agricultural community and from the chamber. I’m fully aware of the quality of Borders produce and I will do whatever is within my power to promote it.”
Scottish Borders Chamber Convener James Aitken said: “We were absolutely delighted to see Alyn Smith come to Kelso and to receive such a large and enthusiastic turnout from our members and others.
“Alyn provided real insight into Scotland’s relationship with Europe and as a member of the Agriculture Committee, he was able to give an update on CAP reform, which he’s closely involved in shaping.”
He said of the forthcoming Cabinet Secretary’s talk: “Richard has proved to be a dogged fighter for Scotland’s agriculture sector and rural economy in his role as Cabinet Secretary and is both liked and respected by the Borders farming community.”