THE FIRST Minister of Scotland has been criticised for being ‘out of touch’ with farming during her parliamentary update on Covid-19 to the Scottish Parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon was outlining her phase one approach to lifting lockdown restrictions which are due to unfurl from Thursday, May 28, and included in her speech that agriculture could resume work from then.

The Scottish Government has since attempted to set the record straight by clarifying that her comments referred to parts of agriculture such as machinery sales and farming activity that is non-food related.

Following her speech however, many disgruntled farmers and rural supporters took to social media to voice their disappointment at what they believed to be a dismissal of the hard work and efforts of the sector over the past months, to feed the nation despite the current challenges.

East Lothian arable farmer Hamish Logan posted on twitter: “Interesting statement from @NicolaSturgeon today about agriculture resuming work on May 28. I can assure you, farmers have not been sitting doing nothing for the last nine weeks! #FeedtheNation #Covid_19.

Rosanna Fraser, a young farmer and rural surveyor from Perth criticised the FM of being out of touch: “I’d love to meet these self-lambing ewes and self-sowing crops - unfortunately, we didn’t have any here! #outoftouch.

A comment from Trevor Douglas on Facebook went viral: "I don’t think she understands that agriculture never stopped. Try telling a cow that it’s not getting fed or milked until the lockdown is relaxed. The milk and food on your table was produced by some of the most important key workers in this country, every morning they were up early and worked till late to ensure you had the food you needed. I’m sorry to say, during the lockdown, farmers and rural workers seemed to have been forgotten."

The SF contacted the Scottish Government, who were quick to clarify the FM’s comments: “The production of food – and the operation of businesses which support that – in farming have continued as part of essential activity during the lockdown,” a Scottish Government spokesperson responded.

“As part of Phase 1, farming activity that is non-food related can now look to re-open once there is suitable guidance in place for workforces, as is happening with other sectors.

“We are seeking to restart activities such as agricultural machinery sales at auction marts and maintenance works on farms that are normally carried out by agricultural contractors etc. which the contractors have halted for activities such as field drainage that they consider are not essential to immediate food supply, but will have financial and longer term impacts up food production in the longer term.

“It is important we do this to enable those businesses who considered certain elements of their work to be non-essential and chose to stop that activity to restart in a phased way, this will supported by appropriate guidance developed in partnership with relevant stakeholders,” they concluded.