Scotland unveils farming blueprint


26 June 2001



Scotland unveils farming blueprint



By Donald MacPhail

FARMERS in Scotland could be paid to make bagpipes under a radical new subsidy system being proposed by the Scottish Executive.

A blueprint for Scottish farming launched on Tuesday (26 June) proposes a shift from production, environmental or area payments to “whole farm” support.

The Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture would pay farm businesses for bringing economic, social and environmental benefits to their area.

Schemes could include diversification into areas such as forestry, tourism, environmental work, or even — as the report highlights — bagpipe-making.

It cites the case of Dugald Cameron, a crofter from Argyllshire, whose bagpipe-making business supplements his income from 50 breeding ewes.

He said: “If crofting is to continue, it is essential that crofters are encouraged to adapt into other businesses allowing them to live and work in these rural parts.”

The proposals were launched by Minister for Environment and Rural Development Ross Finnie.

Drawn up with key stakeholders, they were described as first-ever serious examination of the future direction of farming in Scotland.

Mr Finnie said: “The strategy challenges every farm business to examine its cost structures and production patterns to improve performance.

He added: “It also acknowledges that every farm business may not be able to make a full-time living from the food industry.

By recognising the farm as a whole business it will make it easier for farmers to take market-orientated business decisions, claims the report.

It argues that a whole-farm system recognises variations in farm sizes and types found in Scotland better that production or area-based payments.

Throughout, it stresses that farming must be treated as a part of wider rural development, not something apart which has a right to be there come what may.

The Scottish Executive believes that Scotland should begin to develop the new support scheme with the aim of introducing it within two or three years.

A small working group of farming and environmental interests will also consider how best to tackle the environmental issues facing farming

The red meat promotion and assurance body Quality Meat Scotland said it was committed to new measures aimed at enhancing quality food standards.

QMS chairman Neil Kilpatrick said the strategy recognised the importance of building consumer confidence and extolling the benefits of eating red meat.

Jim Walker, president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland said the strategy offered real choices to anyone wanting contribute to the rural economy.

“The Scottish Executive, through the strategy, is committing itself to a route to a better future for agriculture,” he added.

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