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Perfect Spring weather at Cultybraggan Farm,
but poor political and economic outlook
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie,
Filed 09 Apr 07
The Spring of 2007 has been kind to Cultybraggan
Farm. If this is the result of global warming, then that is splendid.
While the forecast for an earlier Spring and a
longer growing season in the years to come has great advantages
for farming in Scotland, the political forecast is not so reassuring.
The politicians have done much damage to farming in Scotland (1),
as they have throughout the UK.
Cultybraggan Farm used to carry over 400 ewes.
Now the number has been reduced to a little over 100. No replacement
hogs (young female breeding sheep) were bought in last autumn, and
the number of tups (suffolk rams) was reduced to three (2).
Scotch Mule ewe with her triplets at
(Photo © Kimpton Graphics)
The number of cattle on the farm is likely to
be reduced shortly, following the decision not to bid for let summer
grazing which the farm has regularly taken for many years. This
situation is not unique to Cultybraggan Farm. Scotland's livestock
auctioneers last week called for the re-introduction of production-based
subsidies to help stem the exodus of breeding sheep and cattle from
the hills and uplands (3).
at Cultybraggan out from their winter housing
into the Spring sunshine
(Photo © Kimpton Graphics)
The same area of some 100 acres has been put into
barley as last year, but this year an arrangement has been made
with a neighbouring farmer that he does all the cereal work in return
for the grain while the farm keeps the Single Farm Payment and the
straw, so essential for the overwintering of its livestock.
Labour costs are one of the biggest economic factors
in running a farm, coupled with the low price for the final product.
A further concern is the perceived continuing lack of control by
the State authorities over the problems of disease being brought
into the UK from abroad - be it Foot and Mouth, or now Bluetongue.
The situation is made worse by government talk that the costs of
disease control at a national level should be shared with the farmers
who, in reality, would have little input into how it was managed.
The amount of funding directed towards the control of livestock
diseases in the UK is now pathetically low, while animal health
and welfare legislation escalates.
In Scotland the Executive's environment schemes
for farmers have been another expensive, overly bureaucratic disaster:
they have largely collapsed with the Land Management Scheme (LMC)
in disarray in only its third year (4).
While farmers in Scotland, as in the rest of the
UK, are exhorted to be efficient, the business of farming is dominated
by a highly inefficient European Commission with its endless directives
that are so often seriously inappropriate and badly timed.
Sadly, in many instances the best way to become
more efficient is to cut back production (5)
until the reality dawns among our urban based political colleagues
that you cannot have good management of the countryside, nor high
standards of animal health and welfare, without a prosperous farming
1. Irvine, James (2007). Eight
years of Ross Finnie as Scottish Minister for Environment and Rural
Affairs: what did he have to say for himself at NFUS agm, February
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 02 Mar 07,
Here to View
2. Irvine, James (2007). Kelso
ram sales: what to buy?
See FARM Homepage, filed 14 Sep 03, www.land-care.org.uk
Here to View
3. Article (2007). Auctioneers
want to 're-link' subsidies.
Scottish Farmer April 7th, p 1.
4. A Farmer's View (2007).
Unwritten land management contract the key.
Farm & Country section, Edited by Ewan Pate.
The Courier: April 2nd, p 13
5. Linklater, Magnus
(2006). Could we be on the verge of losing another British
This article, which was originally published in the Spectrum Magazine
of Scotland on Sunday on 19th March 2006, is reproduced on Land-Care
with the kind permission of the author and the newspaper
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 21Mar 06, www.land-care.org.uk
Click Here to View