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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 13th February 2020.

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Jonnie Hall:

First, I do not think the likes of game—pheasant, grouse and, indeed, wild deer, because we have farmed deer as well—should be governed as agricultural activity. The husbandry is not the same. They are wild animals. The habitat may be managed in their interests, but nevertheless they are not livestock that are bought, sold and managed in the same way as cattle, sheep, pigs and so on, so I do not see the benefit of that.

I do see, particularly in the Scottish context, the benefits of multiple land use in the same vicinity—the same land—such as having grouse moor management and managing wild deer populations in the interests of conservation, as much as in the interests of stalking and venison, alongside extensive grazing systems for the delivery of key habitats. That is one thing, but we will also be thinking increasingly about the preservation and restoration of our peatlands in the effort to tackle climate change. Grazing management will become a more fundamental issue—and extensive grazing management in Scotland—specifically for its public benefits and public good delivery, rather than just the production of an agricultural product.

That debate is an important one, but at this moment in time I do not view those things as agricultural activities. They can be supported through other means, because they are essentially environmental delivery mechanisms as well.