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Hill Farming Future on Oban Agenda

Scotland’s hill farmers and crofters are being challenged to map out the future of their sector at an important conference being staged in Oban later this month.

Farmers and crofters from across Scotland are being invited to bring their views to ‘The Future of Hill Farming – In Your Hands’ event, being staged on Wednesday 30 September and Thursday 1 October.

With returns from hill farming under pressure, the conference will be looking at the future of this important sector of Scottish agriculture and will be joined by policy makers and funders to explore the opportunities for sheep and cattle producers operating on some of Scotland’s more remote and challenging conditions.  

The conference opens with a half day of farm visits including the Hill & Mountain Research Centre at Kirkton and Auchtertyre Farms near Crianlarich. This will be followed by a Conference dinner to be held in the Argyllshire Gathering Halls in Oban.

The second day will be held at the Scottish Marine Institute, Dunstaffnage, Oban. Speakers will include Jonnie Hall, NFU Scotland Director of Policy, who will outline what the changes to future support arrangements may mean for hill farmers.  

Speaking ahead of the event, John Semple, NFU Scotland Regional Board chairman for Argyll & the Islands said: “NFU Scotland is delighted to be involved in bringing this important national event to Oban. Hill farming is facing challenging times, with many hill farmers and crofters concerned about what the implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will mean for their businesses in the face of continuing price volatility and rising costs.  But that has to be balanced by what they deliver and the opportunities that exist.

“The visits and debate over the two days will highlight some of the challenges and give everyone involved the opportunity to identify a sustainable way forward for hill farming, recognising all the economic and environmental benefits that active hill farming can deliver. In order to achieve this, the process needs to be driven by those farmers and crofters whose livelihoods are dependent on securing a viable income from Scotland’s hills.”

NFU Scotland Director of Policy Jonnie Hall, who will be addressing the conference added: “Hill farming has always faced challenging circumstances, not least the physical constraints of farming in remote areas.  The additional pressures of market volatility and rising input costs mean that increasingly hill farms and crofters need to access targeted support and look to improving returns on their produce in order to survive.

“Hill farming is not simply another agricultural commodity.  More than any other sector, it is pivotal to landscapes, communities and the social fabric of these remote parts.  That means we need to focus precious resources and funding on those actively farming in these parts and give them the confidence to continue.

“Significant challenges are bedding in now because of changes to direct support – new area base payments and coupled schemes for ewe hoggs and calves – but equally we must start to focus minds on changes to LFA support.  This important rural development measure, worth around £65 million per annum, will move to being a new Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme from 2018 onwards.

“That changeover must preserve the economic, environmental and social benefits generated by our hill farmers and crofters.”

Notes for Editors

  • Day One of the Hill Farming Conference (Wed 30th Sept 2015) will involve a half day of farm visits to include the Hill & Mountain Research Centre, Kirkton and Auchtertyre Farms, Crianlarich.  The Conference dinner will be held in the Argyllshire Gathering Halls, Oban (cost £25 per person).
  • Day Two of the conference (Thurs 1st October 2015) will take place at Scottish Marine Institute, Dunstaffnage, Oban.  Chaired by Ken Rundle, SRUC, it will include speakers, trade stands and workshops covering a variety of topics – Next Generation, Technical Improvements, Marketing, Farm Woodland Management, Tourism and Public Benefits.
  • To book your place and for further information please contact: Lucy Sumsion, NFU Scotland, Tel: 01499 600154 or email: lucy.sumsion@nfus.org.uk
  • Media are invited to attend.  If you would like further details contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006 or email: media@nfus.org.uk

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 178/15


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