Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said that the is concerned that the views and opinions of Crofters with regard to the consultation regarding the Common Agricultural Policy funds from 1st January 2015, may not be heard unless they act now. She said, The Highlands and Islands Agriculture Support Group working with the Scottish Government have tested the modelling of the James Hutton Institute on the payments that would be required to support Crofting. They have found that payments of ‘ 35 ‘ 65 per hectare would be the minimum required to support Crofting.
However, the Scottish Government s consultation quotes a Payment of ‘ 25 per hectare for the Crofting Counties. Rumours abound that the intention is that this will be reduced. I previously asked the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochead, to confirm this would not be the case and he refused to rule it out.
She continued, They are now consulting on these proposals, but are doing this electronically most crofters do not have adequate broadband to enable them to complete these documents on-line. This means they are basically being cut out of the consultation. It is obscene that 20 per cent of farmers receive two-thirds of Scotland CAP payments, gaining hundreds of thousands of pounds.
This money is there to support farming and crofting and those farmers and crofters in the Highlands and Islands should access the lion share due to their natural geographic disadvantage. Instead we have a Scottish Government pouring support into large farms while ignoring those at the periphery. Failure to support crofting will have a devastating knock on effect to our remote rural communities.
Again we see this Government ignoring the needs of the Highlands and Islands. I now understand that crofters can obtain paper copies of the consultation from their area office at the offices below I would urge that Crofters do this and demand a fair settlement from these CAP payments.
Those who have broadband can access the consultation at:.
The consultation exercise closes on 17 March 2014, so time is of the essence .