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Scotland’s post-Brexit ag policy must have food production at its heart

Any future farming policy in Scotland must have food production at its heart if it is to succeed, says Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Rural Economy Secretary and MSP for the Highlands and Islands.

The Scottish Conservatives are determined that our farmers get the best deal out of Brexit.

 

As we leave the European Union, we have a once in a lifetime chance to tailor our own system of support which better suits the unique needs of rural Scotland.

 

The need for a future funding system that works for Scotland is clear. We know profits on Scottish farms are now half what they were in 2010, and without support, there would be mass bankruptcies in the farming industry.

 

Despite this, the SNP have so far failed to provide any clarity on what a future support system will look like.

 

Refusal

 

Their refusal to include Scotland in the UK Agriculture Bill with other devolved administrations risks leaving our farmers behind.

 

My view for the future of Scottish agriculture is both positive and forward-looking. It is one which tackles the challenges of the present, but also seeks to make a success of the opportunities of the future.

 

I would like to see a future funding system which is easier to access and simpler to administer and gives farmers and land managers the time and the tools to adapt to the future.

 

Food production must be at the heart of any future farming policy; high quality food and drink production in Scotland are built on strong environmental and animal welfare standards, which must remain at the core of farming business as we leave the EU.

 

Challenging

 

Any policy developed here in Scotland must acknowledge the hugely challenging conditions farmers face and offer support for upland livestock farming and crofting needs.

 

I am deeply concerned by the impact a reduction in Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) funding will have on farming communities in Scotland.

 

The responsibility for this lies with the SNP Government, and their decision to reduce funding for LFASS in this year’s budget poses significant short-term challenges.

 

It will do little to reassure farmers and land managers working to overcome difficulties posed by remoteness, harsh climate, and poor soil quality.

 

Failure

 

The Scottish Government’s failure to invest in new entrants to farming programmes in this year’s budget will also pose challenges for farms across Scotland.

 

As we leave the EU, it is imperative that we sell a positive and prosperous story of the industry to attract new entrants into the sector.

 

We need to be more imaginative about the way we attract people to work in farming and ensure Scottish agriculture continues to grow and prosper.

 

I hope a new funding system for Scottish agriculture will allow for more flexibility and allow us to revolutionise the way people approach the future of farming.

 

Donald can be found tweeting at @DAJCameron

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