Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has hit out after Downing Street failed to invite representation from the Scottish Government to the Farm to Fork Summit.

In the latest constitutional rammy between Holyrood and Westminster, Ms Gougeon criticised the UK Government for its ‘unwillingness’ to discuss the challenges faced by the agri sector in Scotland.

She said: “This has been an incredibly challenging year for farmers and food producers and we have been stunned by the UK Government’s complete unwillingness to talk with us about the significant issues they are facing.

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“We have written repeatedly to ask for meaningful engagement to look at solutions to labour shortages, long-term funding concerns and the impact of additional red tape caused by unilateral decisions taken on labelling – with deafening silence as a response.

“Despite these repeated requests, we were only made aware of the UK Government’s response to the UK Independent Review of Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain in England, within hours of its publication last week and it makes scant reference to UK migration policy.

“While we broadly welcome the extension to the Seasonal Visa Scheme, and stakeholders will likely be reassured by a level of certainty there, this was only ever meant to be a temporary fix.

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“The problems with securing migrant labour in sensitive parts of the sector including seasonal and seafood processing still loom large as the domestic market has repeatedly been tested and found to be incapable of meeting demand.

“This summit is just another in a long list of opportunities squandered by the UK Government to champion the food and drink sector together.”

More than 100 industry representatives attended the event where Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined a range of new measures aimed at the sector, including UK Food Security Index which will allow the sector and politicians to annually monitor the impacts of external factors on food production.