A VAST majority of Scots think farming is vital to the country's economic growth.

New research commissioned by the Scottish Government has found that public support for the industry is growing, with 83% of Scots stating that farming provides an essential public service, and a further 86% agreeing that the industry is 'critical' to the Scottish economy.

The research also indicates widespread support for more food being grown and produced locally.

Speaking ahead of the Royal Highland Show, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Farmers produce our food, they are the custodians of our countryside and are at the beating heart of our rural economy. So it is really pleasing to see the widespread recognition they are receiving.

“The public are clear that they want to see more produce grown locally as well as the protection of animal welfare and food standards – particularly if we leave the EU.

“So, as we look to celebrate the success of Scottish farming and the wider rural economy at the Royal Highland Show, it is absolutely fantastic to see this level of support for our farmers and crofters.”

The UK Government will also be taking part in the Highland, with UK Government ministers and staff manning a stand where the public can pop by to raise any concerns they may have.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “The Royal Highland Show is an important opportunity for the UK Government to hear views from farmers and others in the rural economy, and for us to talk about our plans to support them."