Tractor in the outer Isles


Government must clarify future support to island hauliers post-RET

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Scottish Crofting Federation want the Scottish Government to clarify, as a matter of urgency, how they are going to support island hauliers who are set to lose their entitlement to the road equivalent tariff (RET) on island ferries.

The SCF’s call comes amidst widespread concern that crofters and other islanders may lose out heavily as a result of the proposed changes to the RET announced by Government at the end of last month.


Market research indicates significant opportunities for ‘crofting’ branded produce

Thursday, December 22, 2011

‘Crofts’ and ‘crofting’ are terms understood by nearly four fifths of the population of Scotland with a third to a half of Scottish people indicating they would be more likely to buy a product if they know it comes from a croft. These are some of the findings of a recent piece of market research commissioned by the Scottish Crofting Federation into the commercial potential of the crofting brand.

SCF member Russell Smith, who has been leading work to promote the crofting brand, said: “We commissioned this research to test the idea that the croft mark and croft tourism will ‘add value’ to crofting. That is, we want to know if they will allow crofters to sell more or achieve a higher price for products because the brand is intrinsically worth something to the consumer.


Ardnamurchan celebrates a new crofting dawn with training course success

Thursday, December 22, 2011

An area of north-west Scotland which became well-known a quarter of a century ago for depopulation and the erosion of one of its crofting communities is this month celebrating the completion of the Scottish Crofting Federation's introductory course, attended by more than 20 crofters of all levels of expertise.

'Night Falls on Ardnamurchan', a minor classic book by the Highland writer Alasdair Maclean which was published in 1984, famously described the decline of the crofting township of Sanna in the west-coast peninsula of Ardnamurchan in Lochaber.

Yet earlier this month that image, of Ardnamurchan's twilight, was replaced with a very different picture as 24 students completed the SCF course in the township of Kilchoan, not far from Sanna.


Call for the creation of a crofting support programme

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The call for a comprehensive, stand-alone crofting support programme to be a key element of Scotland’s future rural development policies was heard at a one-day conference held in Wester Ross today (Monday). The conference, which focussed on the key issue of how agricultural support in Scotland can be reformed to promote biodiversity and traditional crofting practices, was designed to influence the current decision-making process on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy.

The CAP is being reformed at the moment with the intention of channelling funds toward those farmers who are actively using the land. The well-attended event was held in Plockton Hall and co-hosted by the Scottish Crofting Federation, the National Trust for Scotland and the Skye and Lochalsh Environment Forum.


Further retreat from the crofting hills evidence of need for agri-reform say crofters

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Scottish Crofting Federation say that a new report on the state of upland agriculture in Scotland shows that there is little sign of recovery in livestock numbers for many of the most remote parts of the Highlands and Islands. The ‘Response from the Hills’ report was published on Wednesday (14th December) by the Scottish Agricultural College as a follow up to their 2008 report ‘Retreat from the Hills’ which revealed dramatic declines in sheep and cattle numbers in upland areas of Scotland, particularly in crofting areas.

This new research from SAC claims that during the last three years, supported by a surge in prices, “the retreat from the hills has stabilised” at national and regional levels. However, the report adds that in some localities decline has continued and, crucially, it shows that these localities tend to be in crofting areas, such as the Western Isles, Argyll and Lochaber.


Crofters raise the banner in Euro-seed protest

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crofting was raising the banner during a recent protest in Europe against legislation which agriculturalists fear will be a tax on traditional farmers to support multinational seed corporations.

Two young members of the Scottish Crofting Federation, Karen MacRae and Susan Garde Pettie, both from Lochalsh, took part in the protest in Strasbourg while they were attending a training course in the French city.

Karen ended up leading the protest holding one end of the demonstrators' banner which read (in French): ‘Free to sow the seeds’. (Karen is on the left of the banner in the picture)She said they had gone on the demonstration to help raise awareness of a new law passed by the French Parliament that is putting a tax on farmers who save their own seeds. The benefits of the tax are to go on agricultural research and development.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crofters claim that a senior Scottish National Party Euro-politician’s remarks on the need to do away with ‘business-as-usual’ farming throw into serious doubt some of the Scottish Government's current proposals for the future of Scotland's agriculture.

The remarks, made on Tuesday by SNP’s MEP Alyn Smith who is a member of the European Parliament's Rural Affairs and Agriculture Committee and is also the SNP's agriculture spokesman, have been welcomed by the Scottish Crofting Federation. The SCF say it gives further weight to arguments that many of the recommendations in the Pack Report which are being taken forward by the Scottish Government do not contribute to necessary deep and rapid agricultural change in Scotland towards less-intensive, smaller scale approaches, such as crofting.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crofters’ stock clubs could be an answer to the loss of livestock, especially sheep, from the hills and moors of the Highlands and Islands. The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has carried out a survey, Taking Stock, of stock clubs in Skye and east Sutherland and the findings were presented at a seminar held last week in Dingwall. SCF chief executive Patrick Krause said, “The stock clubs that responded to the survey are overwhelmingly optimistic about their future. Some of them have been in existence for almost a century, handing down skills and knowledge through the generations. They are producing hardy, healthy stock that is in strong demand in the sale ring, and are doing so with minimal inputs, which is surely what we should be looking for in a future low-carbon economy. The stock clubs have a number of different constitutional set-ups, so that the model is adaptable to the circumstances of individual crofting townships or areas.” The