Crofting Is Systematically Marginalised

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has reproached the Scottish Government for systematically marginalising crofting in agricultural policy.

“Most of the problems suffered by crofters under the new Common Agricultural Policy seem to stem from the Scottish Government ignoring crofters’ views in favour of the industrial agriculture lobby”, said Vice-chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation, Yvonne White.

Tractor & Binder

“The debacle over having three payment regions, something which the SCF opposed but which was foisted upon us at the last minute by the SNP government, with no public consultation, is causing inestimable problems. But it goes further; indeed, the entire thrust of CAP reform to a fairer and sustainable system has been thwarted by this ‘big farmer’ lobby. For example, a fundamental opportunity to move to an area-based system has been delayed for five years when we could have instigated the change straight away, as other countries have”, Ms White continued. “Even the cabinet secretary for agriculture, Mr Lochhead, has cited ‘industry’ lobbying as one of the reasons payments have been delayed. Scotland has had to create an ever more convoluted payment system to continue defending the indefensible.

“The immediate consequences are catastrophic” Ms White added. “Credit from banks and feed merchants is drying up, sheep stock clubs and common grazings cannot pay share-holders, and the ewe-hogg scheme is a damp squib. It's a wonder that there are any sheep and cattle left on the region 3 hill.

“Of course the emergency at the moment is the lack of payments”, Ms White continued, “but the root of the problem goes much deeper. As we have indicated to the Scottish Government, the absence of any meaningful reference to crofting in the ‘Future of Scottish Agriculture’ consultation document, says it all.

“This does not bode well for the last part of this reform, the move to an ‘Areas of Natural Constraint’ scheme. The cabinet secretary has already indicated he is minded to keep it as much like the widely criticised Less Favoured Area scheme as possible, should the SNP be in government after May, presumably under pressure of ‘industry’ again.

Ms White concluded, “The SCF, The Crofting Stakeholder Forum and even the agencies - the Crofting Commission and SNH - have all called on the Scottish Government to use the public money in the CAP to deliver public goods rather than to shore up a failing model of large-scale agri-business. But these demands fall on the deaf ears of a minister whose head has been turned. There are parts of our government struggling to help crofting in areas such as housing and capital grants, but it is uphill whilst the cabinet secretary continues to fold to ‘industry’ opposition to agricultural reforms. This is going to hit crofting areas hard for the next six years, while the current fiasco over getting any payment at all is a bitter blow right at the outset of what is now going to be a testing few years for all of us.”

Scottish Crofting Federation

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