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Union Outlines Positive Vision for Hills and Mountains

Director of Policy addresses Lochaber Monitor Farm event

NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy has called for the contribution of Scotland’s hill farmers and crofters not to be measured solely on the kilos of high quality beef or lamb they produce.

Addressing the conference: ‘A Future Vision for the Hills & Mountains’, held at Banavie today (23 February), Jonnie Hall said that while livestock production in the hills and uplands is vitally important; the value of active farming in these parts must also recognise the hugely significant contribution that extensive grazing systems have on thriving rural communities and flourishing environments.

However, Mr Hall stated that Brexit-led uncertainty threatens to undermine confidence levels in those involved in these traditional farming systems.  That led Mr Hall to call for politicians, as a matter of urgency, to agree a post-Brexit package of co-ordinated policy measures to secure the longer-term viability of hill and upland farming and crofting businesses.

The conference, held in conjunction with the Lochaber Monitor Farm project, also featured presentations from Donald Cameron MSP; Scottish Natural Heritage and Quality Meat Scotland.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Hall said: “Given the physical and financial vulnerability of Scotland’s hill farms and crofts for the foreseeable future, extensive hill and upland farming enterprises potentially face the sheerest cliff-edge because of Brexit and withdrawal from the CAP.  

“A strategy that sets out how to ensure that hill farming and crofting in Scotland can be viable and thrive must be developed.

“These traditional and vital farming systems face ever-increasing Brexit-driven uncertainty that threatens to undermine confidence levels that are already fragile.  Rising input costs, compliance requirements and poor output prices continue to conspire, meaning that Scotland’s more disadvantaged areas remain heavily reliant on agricultural support – both in terms of the direct support available through Pillar 1 and, of equal importance, the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme of Pillar 2.

“The evidence is clear that, in rapidly changing and uncertain times, a package of co-ordinated policy measures to secure the longer-term viability of hill and upland farming businesses and crofting is required as a matter of urgency.  These measures must be based on activity, rather than the area of land, and comprise of complementary measures that deliver financial stability, productivity gains and environmental benefits.

“The value of hill farming and crofting must not be measured by kilos of beef or lamb alone, but also by the hugely significant contribution that active, extensive grazing systems can and does make to thriving communities and flourishing environments.

 “The widespread benefits that hill farming and crofting in Scotland make can be difficult to quantify. They include the maintenance of our upland environment and its iconic wildlife and landscapes; preservation of the social fabric in our remoter rural areas and the cornerstone of both local and national economies.  

“Make no mistake - further declines to active livestock production across our more disadvantaged land would bring a host of economic, environmental and social challenges and impacts that would go well beyond the direct interest of those farms and crofts on the frontline.”

Notes to Editors

  • The conference ‘A Future Vision for the Hills & Mountains’ was held at the Moorings Hotel, Banavie starting at 10.45am. Speakers were: The Politician’s View – Donald Cameron MSP; The Environmentalist’s View – Claudia Rouse, Scottish Natural Heritage; The Market View – Laurent Vernet, Quality Meat Scotland; The Farmer’s View – Jonnie Hall, NFU Scotland.   A selection of photographs from the conference will be available after 2pm from media@nfus.org.uk


Ends


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 32/18


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Lorraine G Luescher

1208 days ago

I think this important message is starting to get in-principle support from our political decision makers. But we now need to press for meaningful measures to improve sustainability, without which the hill sector cannot keep on delivering for Scotland.
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