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While we are discussing the future shape of rural Scotland, the much bigger question is how many working farmers there will be in our landscape in the future. NFUS has declared its vision of “actively farmed hectares”, but landscapes require people in them to make them work, and too many livestock farmers cannot make a living that is sufficient to allow them to continue farming or environmentally enhancing our countryside.
That is demonstrated by this year’s total income from farming figures—historic TIFF figures, I would say—which might come as a surprise to Mairi Gougeon and Gail Ross. That is happening now, before Brexit.
The Government continues to make life harder for the people who are trying to make a living. This week, it laid a statutory instrument to introduce beavers as part of its project to create wilderness landscapes in Scotland. Sea eagle introduction, red kite introduction and now beaver introduction are all active choices that are supported by the Scottish Government, all of which have a cumulative impact on the viability of our agricultural sector.