SCOTS consumers and producers must seize their chance to defend Scottish branding against Brexit-driven efforts to promote 'British' food labelling.

Campaign group ‘Keep Scotland the Brand’ is urging Scots to contribute evidence to the Westminster committee currently taking evidence for the ‘Scotland and Brexit: Trade and Foreign Investment Inquiry’. The committee, chaired by SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire Pete Wishart, will accept evidence until the end of June, covering Scotland's future trade relations both domestically and around the world, and the way in which Scottish businesses are promoted.

“Scotland's brand identity is crucial to our rapidly-growing food and drink sector – local provenance is good for global sales,” said campaign spokesperson Ruth Watson. “Our farmers work very closely with Scotland's vets and scientists to produce food and livestock which is recognised as being top quality around the world.

"This iconic brand recognition is being threatened by Defra's ‘Great’ campaign, which sees the Scottish origins of our food being subsumed under a blanket ‘British’ label. We must stand up for our farmers, fishers, food and drink producers as we face the loss of Protected Geographic Indicators, the system of protecting our iconic foods from ‘identity theft’."

Ms Watson claimed that both the Americans and the Peruvians are now lobbying for the right to call their whisky ‘Scotch’ as part of post-Brexit trade deals, while the Australians want to export beef labelled ‘Scottish fillets’.

"The Americans recently said they expect our standards to come down to meet theirs and that labelling should not allow for discrimination between our food, with its higher standards, and theirs,” she said. “We cannot allow that to happen. ‘Keep Scotland the Brand’ is all for trade with, to, and from other nations but it cannot be at the expense of food standards.

“There is great concern about the future of our rural communities if our brand identity is lost, or traded away,” Ms Watson added. “I have been told by a local NFUS representative that discussions in Whitehall are looking at 'allowing arable to fail' because it is cheaper to import than support. That raises huge food security implications as well as food justice concerns. Are we to end up with a nation which is reliant on imports but only the wealthy can feed their children food grown and produced to high standards, which currently is the norm?

“What happens to our rural communities, our rural landscapes, our pricing structures in supermarkets, our tourism and hospitality sectors if our farms fail and either are concreted over for housing or sold to large estates and big business? Scotland is the brand and there are many reasons we think it is worth safeguarding."

She concluded that concerned businesses, customers, MPs, and everyone else with an interest should make a submission to the Scottish Select Committee as soon as possible, via the following weblink