SNP councillors call for food and crofting report

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Last week’s Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Sustainable Development Committee saw Councillors Gordon Murray and John Norman Macleod (Independent) request a report on local food production and crofting.

It came during discussions of a report put forward by the committee  on post-Brexit implications for agriculture and associated land use in the Highlands and Islands.

Councillor  Murray told the meeting: ‘On the report, it states that rapid and/or large scale change can sometimes have brutal social impacts such as loss of employment and income which exposes individuals and businesses to the stress and expense of seeking alternatives. Policy interventions may be required in this case to support adjustment procedures.’

Councillor Murray requested that a further report be brought back after consultation with local food producers, processors, businesses and crofters to explore such policy interventions that would avoid the harsh social impacts referred to.

Following the meeting, Councillor Murray said: ‘This is hugely important and we need to be looking at the resilience of the local market.

‘Food processing on the island should be analysed because once livestock start being transported, crofters see their investments, and hence returns, reduce significantly.

‘This is a challenge but it is also an opportunity for us to review our practices and support crop and livestock producers to remove obstacles and this may encourage better use of our resources in terms of land and encourage new entrants.’