The Scottish Crofting Federation [SCF] has rejected the Scottish Government’s published ‘vision’ for the future of Scottish agriculture – on the understandable grounds that crofting hardly features in it.
‘Despite successive ministers for crofting giving assurances that the Scottish Government is very supportive of crofting’, says SCF’s chair, Fiona Mandeville, ‘this doesn’t seem to be shared by those who make agricultural policy.
‘The Scottish Government published their vision entitled ‘the Future of Scottish Agriculture’ and crofting is mentioned in only one of the nine outcomes.
‘Crofting plays a vital role in the supply of high quality replacement stock and store animals, in maintaining High Nature Value landscape and in retaining rural populations. But despite the huge contribution crofting makes, it is hardly recognised in this top-level document.’
The public consultation on the Scottish Government’s paper, The Future of Scottish Agriculture, ended last Friday.
The SCF’s response to it said: ‘The lack of reference to crofting in the document is glaring and quite shameful. Crofting is regarded by other nations as a model for sustainable land use, satisfying many international objectives for food production, land use, rural community development and nature conservation, yet the Scottish Government ‘vision’ barely mentions crofting in passing.
‘SCF does not share the Scottish Government support for an outdated, profit-oriented, unsustainable model of industrial agriculture.
‘It is time for change.
‘In the next draft of The Future of Scottish Agriculture we therefore hope to see far more reference to crofting, small-scale food production, shared land use, High Nature Value farming and delivery of public goods.
‘The government vision is hung-up on profit; it is mentioned fourteen times in the document. There appears to be little understanding of the wider picture. Agriculture is about land-based culture, not just about making profit.’
It would seem that a government with its fiscal plans in disarray, having made extravagant promised to spend to a level it cannot see how to fund, is indeed profit obsessed and prepared to abandon the vital plethora of small players in the agriculture sector.
The crofters, however, are clearly not about to take that lying down.