Results-based approach which values and rewards crofters’ skills urgently needed
Traditional agri-environment approaches have devalued crofters’ skills and largely failed to deliver for the public, according to EFNCP’s presentation at the 2017 Scottish Crofting Federation annual gathering. A new results-based approach which genuinely supports and delivers through crofting livestock systems is urgently required in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
Alternatives to the tired and largely underachieving prescriptive approach to agri-environment funding are being sought, trialled and mainstreamed in other countries, but Scotland is in danger of being left behind.
Common grazings pose particular challenges, whatever the approach; an innovative pilot measure in Dartmoor in England shows one possible way ahead on common pastures – similar initiatives are needed in the Crofting Counties, making the most of this period of change to develop different ways of doing things.
Our challenge for crofting, and common grazings especially, is the same one which faces High Nature Value farming systems across Europe – to break the link between low incomes and high public good delivery without compromising those very public goods which society demands and values. It’s not good enough that hard work which provides the taxpayer with public goods is rewarded with income well below the minimum wage. A new approach is needed; crofters should be at the centre of developing it and take the initiative to start the process of developing it.
Gwyn Jones’s presentation is available here.
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