Whisky manufacturers lose subsidy

Scottish distillers, farmers both concerned about impact

Mar 21, 2000 - The European Commission has decided to reduce the level of grants paid to food and drink companies and Scottish whisky manufacturers say losing their subsidy will leave them having to compete with "one hand tied behind their backs."


The grants paid to the whisky industry help compensate distillers who pay higher prices in Europe for wheat and barley. The Scottish Whisky Association said that any cuts would result in its members being much less competitive in overseas markets like Canada and America where cereals are much cheaper.

Scottish politicians are outspoken about the decision. Fergus Ewing, Scottish National Party spokesman for the Highlands and Islands, said: "Once again the British Government has failed. The Scotch whisky industry spoke and Labour didn't listen. How many jobs will be lost because Labour has sold out on the dram once again?"

Alex Johnstone, Conservative farming spokesman, added: "Anything that damages the whisky trade is damaging also to farmers. They need to get barley and wheat into the brewing trade and anything that threatens the viability of the whisky trade has an obvious effect on farmers."

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