Scottish landowners challenged on sustainability

Scottish landowners have been told to take responsibility for securing their own economic futures rather than wait for Europe, Government or anyone else to come up with industry solutions.

Brian Pack, the architect of the Scottish Government’s investigation into CAP reform, threw down the gauntlet in Edinburgh to delegates at the annual meeting of the landowners organisation, Scottish Lands and Estates, advising them to find their own solutions to sustainable farming, increasing farm productivity and the thorny question of tenancy reform.

He said: “The message is simple. It’s for you to come up with answers. You can wait too much for Governments and others to solve your problems. Just do what’s right for you.”

On tenancy reform he advised landowners to “get out of their trenches” and come up with new resolutions to embedded landlord-tenant positions.

“There is a perception that there is insufficient will on the part of landowners to create new tenancies or opportunities. So seize the initiative and get a voluntary Code of Practice in place rather than wait for the Tenant Farming Forum to come to a conclusion,” he said.

Mr Pack recommended the same self-determination approach to demonstrating a commitment to environmental farming and called for an agreed definition of precisely what the word “sustainable” meant.

He added: “It’s a pretty hackneyed word and in order to have a chance of moving in the right direction and finding ways of securing Scotland’s economic future we need to know precisely what it means.

“I don’t believe the CAP will provide the vehicle for sustainability and greening is likely to represent only a small step so we need a voluntary code to help us move forward and avoid unnecessary legislation,” he said.

“Sustainability is a matter of public concern. I had high hopes of the Romanian Agriculture Commissioner but am very disappointed about where we appear to be heading. It’s vitally important we don’t miss an opportunity to secure Scotland’s economic future with CAP reform.”

And on farm productivity he said society had finally woken up to the importance of productivity. In future he said it would be measured against sustainability.

“For a while we were in a Fool’s Paradise where we didn’t think productivity was important. Now we know it’s essential.”