Councillor welcomes Scottish Affairs Committee’s crofting focus

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SNP Comhairle group leader Gordon Murray welcomed the Scottish Affairs Committee’s focus on crofting during a visit the Isle of Lewis on Monday, February 18.

The committee planned to meet with crofters and hold a public discussion in Stornoway on the potential impact of Brexit on crofting as part of their wider inquiry into the future of Scottish agriculture post Brexit.

Councillor Murray said this would an opportunity for discussion of current and future challenges facing crofting communities.

He said: ‘The future of crofting is in a very precarious place notwithstanding the uncertainty over Brexit, which I am sure will dominate discussions.

‘Crofting was traditionally a system of small-scale food production founded on socialist principles of common working communities or townships but is now prone to the worst kinds of capitalist speculation with tenancies priced well beyond the reach of many, especially the young, in the community expressing a wish to become crofters and work the land.

‘I would urge the committee to discuss the market prices of the tenancies of crofts and whether capping the price of a croft would encourage a new generation of crofters.

‘In terms of land use, I would also encourage the committee to discuss ways of promoting other ways of using crofts such as crop production. There are many possibilities with the emergence of polycrubs and other innovative ways of crop production such as Aquaponics.

‘There seems to be many crofts lying in a state of disuse and tenants need to be encouraged to make full use, where possible, of the land. Food production will come to the fore as the Brexit process starts to make an impact.

‘It may be the time to start looking at crofting cooperatives and markets given the potential tariffs that may result in the withdrawal from the single market.

‘I very much look forward to the outcomes of these discussions considering the huge importance crofting has in terms of the Hebrides.’