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NSA Scottish Region meet with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon

27th January 2023

On Thursday 26th January 2023, newly elected NSA Scottish Region Chair Peter Myles and Trustee Pamela Nicol along with NSA Scottish Region Coordinator Grace Reid met with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon at Doldy Farms, Glenisla.

Pamela, Doldy Farms Manager comments, “It was great to welcome the Cabinet Secretary on farm and have the chance to talk through the future CAP reform which included a discussion on the future of LFASS (Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme). In addition it was nice to give her an on farm insight into the challenges and opportunities that our industry faces whilst being able to show her how the landscape surrounding Doldy Farms is changing.”

Glenisla was a very apt location for the Cabinet Secretary to visit, as an example of the importance of LFA support. It was highlighted how agriculture is so often the core of these rural areas and without this vital foundation, many communities simply wouldn’t exist. Despite upcoming planned changes to policy in terms of climate change mitigation, and improving biodiversity, our farmers and crofters are the beating heart of rural areas and cannot be allowed to diminish. Significant emphasis was put on the existing purpose and function of LFA which has been so vital for the farming activity occurring in the disadvantaged areas of Scotland in the past. Not only does this activity relate to food production, but it also holds value in terms of the contribution it makes to the society and environment it surrounds.

Also high on the agenda was future policy and support, and some detail, in which the Cabinet Secretary confirmed, that further guidance on timescales will be published within four weeks. Pamela and Peter were quick to question what this may include, what the timeframe would be for legislation to be put in place, and will it be ready for the current tranche of payments in operation, to come to an end?

Young farmers and new entrants were also discussed in relation to future policy with the reassurance that they would not be left behind and also the looming tree plantation of nearby Glen Prosen was another area of concern.

Mr Myles welcomed the visit saying, “NSA Scottish Region were pleased to host the Cabinet Secretary on farm and would like to make it undoubtedly clear, that it is within this important interim period, before 2025, that many agricultural businesses need clear direction, and support to ensure that they are making the correct management decisions to continue operating in the future.”