Union hosts talks with Ar­gyll politi­cians

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FARMING -

THE CON­TIN­U­ING need to sup­port ac­tive farm­ing in Ar­gyll in the wake of Brexit was just one of the points ham­mered home in a busy meet­ing be­tween Scot­land’s farm­ing union and Ar­gyll politi­cians.

Dal­mally Com­mu­nity Hall was the venue on Mon­day Septem­ber 4 for the dis­cus­sion be­tween Na­tional Farm­ers Union Scot­land (NFUS) Ar­gyll and the Is­lands re­gional board mem­bers and MSPs Don­ald Cameron, John Fin­nie and Michael Rus­sell along with Bren­dan O’Hara MP.

Each of the politi­cians opened by set­ting out their views on is­sues re­lat­ing to agri­cul­ture and Brexit.

Ne­go­ti­at­ing trade deals that sup­port Scot­tish pro­duce was go­ing to be cru­cial, said union rep­re­sen­ta­tives, par­tic­u­larly for the vul­ner­a­ble sheep and beef sec­tors in Ar­gyll.

The over­rid­ing mes­sage was that an area like Ar­gyll will con­tinue to need sup­port pay­ments in or­der to en­sure that ac­tive farm­ers and crofters con­tinue to de­liver a wide range of pub­lic ben­e­fits.

The union raised the is­sue of the cost of trans­port­ing milk off the Isle of Bute and the lack of ferry fare con­ces­sions for milk tankers, sim­i­lar to that al­ready given for trans­porta­tion of live­stock, hay and straw and live shell­fish.

Union mem­bers also ex­pressed ‘dis­ap­point­ment’ that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment did not ac­cept the ‘cost-neu­tral’ changes pro­posed by NFUS to the Scot­tish Up­land Sheep Sup­port Scheme (SUSSS).

After a re­cent spell of bad weather, hill farm­ers are sig­nif­i­cantly be­hind with silage mak­ing and gath­er­ing hill flocks in for wean­ing lambs.

NFUS mem­bers asked for the politi­cians’ sup­port in their call for an ex­ten­sion to the SUSSS ap­pli­ca­tion pe­riod for this year be­yond the cur­rent dead­line of Oc­to­ber 16.

The grow­ing num­bers of wild geese across the re­gion were also un­der the spot­light. For ar­eas like Is­lay and Tiree with sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tions of bar­na­cle geese, crofters and farm­ers need a goose pol­icy that con­tin­ues to sup­port their liveli­hoods when the im­pacts of geese are sig­nif­i­cant, ac­cord­ing to the union.

Across both is­land and main­land ar­eas of Ar­gyll, grey­lag geese are also in­creas­ing in num­ber, and NFUS would like to see this species added to the gen­eral li­cence for the con­trol of birds.

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