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Harvest in the Southern Uplands of Scotland:
if you want the landscape and local food you will need to support
it in a sensible way
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie,
Filed 25 Aug 06
Much of the land in the Southern Uplands
of Scotland is classified by the agricultural authorities as "Less
Favoured". They refer to its potential for agricultural productivity
in terms of farming livestock and producing crops. But that same
land has of course tremendous value to Scotland in terms of its
environmental importance - not only for Scotland's tourist industry
but for the Scottish people themselves. Such land has been well
cared for by generations of farmers, who have been central to maintaining
it as being truly part of Scotland's natural heritage.
Combining barley in one of the smaller fields at Cultybraggan
with the combine that has served the farm well for some 18 years
(To enlarge CLICK
But now it is under serious threat from a generation
of academics and bureaucrats with little practical knowledge of
farming, but rich in political theory based on a misplaced ideology.
The misplaced ideology runs something like this.
"The land belongs to the people, so the people
will say how it should be run."
But of course the land does not belong to the
people. Someone has to buy it, even if its a government quango that
does so. Who ever buys it has to be financially responsible for
it and should know how to manage it in a practical way.
Unfortunately the mantra of those who have the
ear of government is "Conservation" and "Biodiversity"
with little interest in whether the land produces anything that
might be related to food. According to them, other countries can
produce the food we need and most of the people of Scotland can
buy it very conveniently in one of the four remaining supermarket
giants at knock down prices. So, according to this ideology, farming
in Scotland is not needed other than for the recreation of the masses
and their indulgence in the minutiae of ecology. And so it is that
this message is portrayed endlessly on our TV, which is otherwise
starved of quality material.
Some of Cultybraggan's
Aberdeen Angus herd at Comrie.
Their winter housing depends on home grown straw.
In turn the condition of the soil in the barley fields depends on
dung being spread on them from the winter housing of the cattle.
This integrated management is nothing new: it has been the custom
(To enlarge CLICK HERE)
The universities run huge, cost-effective courses
in the klondike of "Conservation" and "Biodiversity"
under the heading of "Land Management" without any significant
agricultural input, such as agricultural science or practical know-how.
This produces a flood of potential "Land Managers" who
are unemployable on farms, but who seek jobs as "Advisers to
Farmers" paid for by the Scottish Executive or its massive
quango, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), or through the heavily
government funded Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), or through
Estate Agents offering their expensive services to help farmers
with the piles of unproductive bureaucracy (rules and draconian
penalties) and how to apply for poorly devised and highly wasteful
forms of subsidy offered by Government. Or they can try to get jobs
with the financially mismanaged National Trust for Scotland. Or
they can seek jobs with the politically influential RSPB with its
obsessive interest in birds to the virtual exclusion of anything
Is it true that there are now ten office-based
staff for every one farmer? Or are there now even more than that
to one farm worker, as homebred farm workers are disappearing as
fast as snow off a dyke in summertime? It certainly feels like it
when trying to run (or just maintain) a slightly above average-sized
farm in the beautifully scenic area of the southern uplands of Perthshire
- at Cultybraggan, Comrie - an area where SNH has made no useful
contribution whatsoever. and where that other heavily government-funded
quango - Historic Scotland - has been a constant pain in the arse
for no credible purpose other than to be obstructive.
It is truly amazing that any government should
think it can continue with such a crazy policy.