A new piece of research, Support for Crofting, has been published by the Crofting Commission.
The focus of the report was to analyse the current agricultural and environmental support for crofting, while examining the feasibility of creating any new forms of support more specific to crofting.
In particular it looked at the points:
• Examine the extent to which the support payments currently available to crofters are sufficient to achieve the Scottish Government’s objectives for crofting and the sustainability of the crofting system
• Identify alternative support systems that might achieve these objectives to a greater extent in the future.
Welcoming the research, Crofting Commission Convener, Rod MacKenzie said: “The prospect of Brexit has triggered a debate on the future of the support systems for crofting and farming, a vital issue which will affect crofters and crofting businesses for years to come.
“That is why we commissioned the report to examine these issues from the crofting perspective, and the Commission is very grateful for his evidence-based analysis and constructive suggestions.”
“The issues raised by the report are extremely important, and we hope that everyone involved in the debate will consider them carefully.
“The Commission will make clear our own position next month, in our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation, Stability and Simplicity.”
The report highlights the handicaps for the smaller-scale producer within the existing support system, and the lack of incentives to operate or to continue within the system.
While croft land continues to be claimed for, claims are made from a declining number of crofters.
The report also indicates that this is contrary to crofting policy and the objectives of crofting legislation; which is to encourage more, not fewer, active crofters.
The report goes on to make a series of recommendations as to how current measures could be adjusted and new support mechanisms provide for greater consideration of the smaller-scale producer.
It does not advocate a case for an overall croft specific system but considers that the crofting scale has to be more appropriately considered in revised supports structures.
In particular, it advises that any new policy should provide minimum payments that reward activity and should also make it less complex to claim for small amounts of support and grants.
At the same time basic support mechanisms should be designed to ensure they complement and can integrate with more advanced programmes.
It also recommends more encouragement to retain small cattle herds and to ensure cropping to increase diversity ecologically and economically.
The full report can be found on the Crofting Commission’s website at: HERE