Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands Conservative MSP, this morning delivered the key note speech at a major Crofting Law conference held in Edinburgh’s Signet Library and organised by The Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet. Jamie was asked to deliver the address in his capacity as Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Crofting. The conference was chaired by Lord McGhie, Chairman of the Scottish Land Court and President of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland and attracted lawyers and legal experts specialising in crofting law from across Scotland.
Jamie set out the role of the Cross Party Group, talked about the Crofting (Scotland) Act 2010 and about the future of the crofting sector in Scotland.
Addressing the conference Jamie said:
“ The Scottish Government and all the parties represented in the Scottish Parliament are committed to Scotland’s crofting sector as a key rural primary industry that is often the bedrock of our rural communities, particularly in many fragile remote and island areas. There is a lot of genuine political good will towards our crofters and we politicians want to see a dynamic and sustainable industry that attracts new entrants and is innovative and diverse, while at the same time retaining and passing on the best of traditional techniques and excellence and helping to preserve often unique environments. And I mean excellence not only in animal husbandry but also in industries such as weaving.
“ During the passage of the 2010 Act, I used to make the point- and it was shared by Ministers- that regulation alone will not ensure crofting's survival. Government assistance for the crofting sector through agricultural and agri-environmental support schemes is already substantial and will continue to be crucial for most crofters and their ability to carry on in crofting. The forthcoming reforms to these support schemes must contain real opportunities for the crofting counties- for example in the development of new schemes which could be targeted at vulnerable areas or areas of natural handicap.
“Food security, the importance of local food and a growing consumer desire- which is likely to increase- to see a reduction in food miles can be real positives for crofting, as they can be for Scotland’s entire agricultural industry. Again government can offer support in this area by helping with promotion and marketing and by highlighting some of the world class food that crofters produce which can be enjoyed by local residents and by tourists to the Highlands & Islands alike. I think even more can be done to promote some of the niche market products created by crofters such as meat from traditional and native breeds. A couple of years ago we saw the launch of the Scottish Crofting Produce Mark- a trademark which can be seen on a whole host of products from beef and lamb to honey and croft-made tweed products- and this scheme is to be commended.”