Crofters must ‘stand up with one voice’

The Oban Times - - Farming -

THE Scot­tish Croft­ing Fed­er­a­tion (SCF) has writ­ten to all the main party lead­ers ask­ing them to out­line their in­ten­tions for agri­cul­ture and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment pol­icy in the lead-up to the gen­eral elec­tion.

SCF chair­man Rus­sell Smith said: ‘What hap­pens to agri­cul­ture and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment post-Brexit de­pends very much on the out­come of the na­tional elec­tions and the in­ten­tions of the par­ties that will hold power, both in the UK and in Scot­land.

‘There are fun­da­men­tal is­sues to think about, such as the de­vo­lu­tion of de­ci­sion-mak­ing and the size of bud­get, and how that bud­get will be al­lo­cated. A ma­jor con­cern is with trade agree­ments and what Scot­land’s re­la­tion­ship with the Euro­pean Union will be.’

Mr Smith con­tin­ued: ‘There is the big­ger pic­ture of agri­cul­tural and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment in the UK and con­se­quently in Scot­land, and there are the more spe­cific is­sues around croft­ing that will be of great con­cern to crofters at this time. Who ul­ti­mately will have the say on what croft­ing-spe­cific sup­port there will be?

‘ We are wor­ried that croft­ing will be fur­ther con­sumed into gen­eral com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture when croft­ing is clearly dis­tinct; it has its own ben­e­fits to of­fer and its own con­straints to con­tend with.

‘We can­not af­ford to be com­pla­cent and think that what will be will be – crofters have to stand up as one voice and make the par­ties aware so that croft­ing-friendly com­mit­ments are in­cluded in party man­i­festos.’

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