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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Green MSP Supports Small Producers at Scottish Parliament Demo

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Highlands and Islands MSP Ariane Burgess attended a demonstration of small-scale farmers, crofters and growers outside the Scottish Parliament.

The demonstrators were calling on the Scottish Government to make farm support payments fairer.

Currently, half the agriculture budget goes to less than 10% of Scottish farms.

The ‘basic payments’ are area-based, meaning that in general, the more land a farmer owns, the more public money they receive.

The event was organised by Land Workers Alliance, Scottish Crofting Federation, Propagate, Soil Association and Nature Friendly Farming Network.

They are calling for changes in the new farm payment system that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy, including redistribution of payments towards smaller producers, and an explicit commitment to promoting smaller-scale horticulture and other forms of farming.

Ms Burgess said:

“In a Good Food Nation, we must ensure that local, small-scale food producers receive a fair income.

“But growers, farmers and crofters on less than 3 hectares of land are not eligible for the basic ‘income support’ that so many other farms and crofts rely upon.

“Market gardeners receive no funding at all, despite providing healthy and nutritious local food to hundreds of families, creating green jobs, sequestering carbon and boosting biodiversity. 

“Knockfarrel Produce in Dingwall is a brilliant example of a good food business, but this small, veg-growing croft is really struggling due to rising costs, the cost of living and a lack of government support.

“It’s heartbreaking that they have had to give notice to their staff. 

“Public funds should be used to support businesses like these that are providing public good.

“That’s why I am working to secure more support for our valued local growers, and for other farmers and crofters who want to diversify into growing some veg. 

“This would provide excellent value for money, through benefits to health, climate and nature, local economies, community wealth and food security.

“It could even be done without extra demands on the public purse, by redistributing farm support payments in line with social justice principles.”   

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