The representative organisation for crofters, the Scottish Crofting Foundation (SCF), demand government investment in crofting as fair payment for the being regulated ‘for the common good’ in its submission to the draft Crofting Reform Bill consultation which closes today.
Marina Dennis, Chair of the SCF working group on crofting reform, said “given the amount of work that went into the Committee of inquiry on Crofting, this is a very disappointing draft bill. It really does not get to grips with what is happening in crofting and fails to address what crofters said to the committee loud and clear – crofting must pay or crofters will not croft. We can not continue to lose money on crofting activity just because it is a good practice. That is irrational economics, crofting out of loyalty rather than logic. It is all well and good that the government says it wants crofters to manage the unique landscape of the Highlands and Islands for the common good, that it wants us to continue to steward some of the best High Nature Value Farming areas of the UK, but they ignore the recommendations of the committee which were that crofters must be paid to deliver public goods.”
The consultation on crofting reform closes today after 12 weeks which have seen a deluge of criticism poured upon it. It is the culmination of a long process which started in 2006 with the hacking of the previous bill and the setting up of the widest Inquiry into crofting in a generation. SCF Chairman Neil MacLeod added “we recognise that there are some good suggestions regarding regulation in the bill but these must be balanced with additional incentives and the inappropriate proposals taken out to get it back into kilter. As it stands the bill would do a lot more harm than good but we think that the government could actually turn this around quite easily and produce something to amend existing legislation and re-focus investment in crofting to enable it to deliver.”