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The continuing need to support active farming in Argyll in the wake of Brexit was just one of the points hammered home in a busy meeting between farming union and politicians.
Dalmally Community Hall was the venue on Monday September 4 for the discussion between NFUS Argyll and the Islands regional board members and local MSPs Donald Cameron, John Finnie and Michael Russell along with Brendan O’Hara MP.
Each of the politicians opened by setting out their views on issues relating to agriculture and Brexit. Negotiating trade deals that support Scottish produce is going to be absolutely crucial, particularly for the vulnerable sheep and beef sectors in Argyll.
The overriding message was that an area like Argyll will continue to need support payments in order to ensure that active farmers and crofters continue to deliver a wide range of public benefits.
The union raised the issue of the cost of transporting milk off the Isle of Bute and the lack of ferry fare concessions for milk tankers, similar to that already given for that transportation of livestock, hay and straw and live shellfish.
Union members also expressed ‘disappointment’ that the Scottish Government did not accept the ‘cost-neutral’ changes proposed by NFUS to the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS).
After a recent spell of bad weather, hill farmers are significantly behind with silage making and gathering hill flocks in for weaning lambs. NFUS members asked for the politicians’ support in their call for an extension to the SUSSS application period for this year beyond the current deadline of October 16.
The growing numbers of wild geese across the region were also under the spotlight. For areas like Islay and Tiree with significant populations of barnacle geese, crofters and farmers need a goose policy that continues to support their livelihoods when the impacts of geese are significant, according to the union. Across both island and mainland areas of Argyll, greylag geese are also increasing in number, and NFUS would like to see this species added to the general licence for the control of birds.
Union members listen intently to the politicians’ views. Photo: NFUS. no_a37NFUS01