Social subsidies only way for hills to survive

22 May 1998

Social subsidies only way for hills to survive

HILL and upland farmers must accept environmental and stewardship payments as their only means of survival, according to banker Donald MacRae, head of agricultural services with TSB Scotland.

"I know there is a reluctance by many in these areas to accept social rather than agricultural subsidies, but that attitude must change. They must welcome such payments with both hands. It will be the only way they can survive," Mr MacRae told a conference in Perth.

The best research had shown that the best way to maintain the environment in the hills was to keep some limited form of agricultural production. "There will be a need for a proper early retirement scheme to allow some farmers to leave the industry, but the best way for others to remain in areas like the Scottish Highlands is for them to be rewarded for being environmental guardians of the countryside," said Mr MacRae.

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