20 September 2001
Hunting ban is ‘threat to farming’

By Adrienne Francis

THE future of sheep farming in northern Scotland could be under jeopardy if the Scottish Parliament pushes ahead with a hunting ban, farmers have warned.

National Farmers Union of Scotland president Jim Walker issued the warning after a vote by MSPs to proceed with a bill to ban hunting with dogs.

“The Bill is so badly drafted that its attempt to ban hunting with dogs will dangerously undermine the ability of farmers and crofters to protect livestock.

“Fox predation can decimate the already meagre incomes of sheep farmers, who are suffering the worst crisis in living memory.”

Mr Walker said MSPs seemed content to “rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic” rather than engage in a serious debate about the future of farming.

“MSPs will have to ensure the currently unworkable Bill is re-drafted to afford farmers and crofters some protection for their businesses,” he said.

Rod Mackenzie, Scottish Regional Chairman for the National Sheep Association, said upland areas would be especially badly hit by a ban.

“There are many areas to the north of the Highland line where vehicle access or the use of high-velocity rifles is not possible,” he said.

“In these areas, packs of hounds are used without riders to control the fox population.

“Large forested areas alongside farms are also controlled in this way.

“A ban on hounds for fox control would have a significant effect.”

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