Letter published in the Ross-shire Journal, West Highland FreePress, Stornoway Gazette and Inverness Courier
I welcome calls by members of the board of Highlands and Islands Local Food Network HILFN for a period of reflection and review of the best structure to promote local food in future.
A letter from HILFN board chair Drew Ratter has pinpointed the real causes of the news that the current operation is suspended on 1st April.
I was deeply disappointed that LibDem and Labour MPs, MSPs and councillors have failed to investigate the underlying causes of the HILFN announcement before making comments about HIE funding. I understand that many local food groups in the Highlands and Islands of long standing wish to see a thorough review of the HILFN structure.
The issue is not fundamentally about available public money from HIE which offers seed money to developing businesses. But it is based on evidence about doubts about the organisation's ability to offer core services on a sustainable basis.
The claims about lack of HIE funding made by certain agricultural journalists and spokespeople from SRPBA and NUFS along with several concerned individuals have been made without a full understanding of the months of scrutiny into HILFN last year that ended with the dramatic announcement by Jo Hunt, its director, on March 17th.
I am glad that calmer heads in government and local food networks have been joined by some of the HILFN board who know that a review of the structure can secure effective Highlands and Islands wide support for local producers and long standing food groups.
Rob Gibson SNP MSP Highlands and Islands,
4 Grant St., Wick KW1 5AY