The Lorn & Mid Argyll Branches of National Farmers Union Scotland held their 2012 AGM on Monday night in the Loch Melfort Hotel at Kilmelford, with Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands MSP, a farmer himself and the Scottish Conservative Environment Spokesman, as their speaker.
Jamie McGrigor addressed the audience on the planned reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the future of family farming in the West Highlands of Scotland.
He then answered questions on a wide range of issues including the constitutional debate and the recent controversy over the Cabinet Secretary for Education Mike Russell’s handling of college funding and leadership issues.
On the subject of CAP reform, McGrigor said: ‘Our general approach is that we believe that the Scottish Government should work with DEFRA to ensure the best possible deal for Scottish farmers.
‘This means allowing Holyrood to have as much flexibility as possible in terms of creating a new CAP system that is suited to Scotland’s specific needs.
‘Last time when the CAP was sorted out by the UK government, they were flexible enough to come up with four separate systems, one for each of our UK countries – which was a clever result.
‘LFASS [Ed: Less Favoured Area Support Scheme] is crucial to our region of the Highlands and Islands. We agree with the NFUS that the new areas of natural constraint system should be built on the principle of LFASS, with support going to the people who most need it, subject to an appropriate stocking requirement, to ensure continued agricultural activity.
‘The retention of stock numbers in marginal hill and island farms and crofts is critical and direct support to protect production will be required. Statistics show a continued decline in overall stock numbers.’
Quite what the naturally courteous McGrigor had to say in response to questions on the Michael Russell tantrum that cost the Chair of Stow College his job has not been disclosed and remains private to the Monday night’s meeting.