Chan eil an duilgheadas le Bile an Àiteachais na iongnadh, le Murray MacLeoid

Cha bu chòir a bhith na iongnadh cus gu bheil dàil a’ dol air a thighinn air Bile an Àiteachais, aig a bheil còir siostam ùr a chruthachadh airson taic a chumail ri croitearan is tuathanaich. Dha-rìribh, ‘s dòcha gun canadh cuid gur e sin a bha san amharc aca co-dhiù.

Tha a' ghnìomhachas mar a tha air gluasad a dh'ionnsaigh a bhith nas fhearr dhan àrainneachd
Tha a' ghnìomhachas mar a tha air gluasad a dh'ionnsaigh a bhith nas fhearr dhan àrainneachd

[English-language version below]

Cha robh an t-amas gu bhith furasta: siostam nas seasmhaiche a chruthachadh airson na thathas ag àrach de bhiadh san dùthaich seo fhèin a leudachadh, agus aig an aon àm, gearradh na thathas a’ cur a-mach de charbon.

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Ach, cha bu chòir dha a bhith do-dhèanta a bharrachd. Tha a-nis aithe fharsaing ann gu bheil gluasad gu dòighean-obrach far a bheil measgachadh de dh’fheum ga dhèanamh air an fhearann buannachdail a thaobh na h-àrainneachd agus aig a’ cheann thall, a thaobh cosnadh.

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‘S e an duilgheadas nan deigheadh gluasad gu lèir chun a sin ann an aon cheum gum biodh e na bhuille mhòr dha na tuathanaich mhòra.

Dh’innis ministear nan cùisean dùthchail, Màiri Gougeon, dhan Phàrlamaid, ged nach eil iad a’ cur an cùlaibh ris a’ bhile gu tur, gu bheil an t-amas a-nis gu bhith air atharraichean a dhèanamh air an t-siostam a tha ann an-dràsta, agus a bheir a-steach barrachd ghnothaichean timcheall na h-àrainneachd.

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Tha seo a’ ciallachadh gun tig na diofar sgìrean taice a chumail - Sgìre a h-Aon, an fhearran as fheàrr agus a tha a' faighinn na taice as motha; Sgìre a Dhà, far a bheil an taic nas lugha; agus Sgìre a Trì, na beanntan ‘s na monaidhean nach eil a’ faighinn ach glè bheag dha rèir.

Tha seo air a thighinn na bhriseadh dùil dhaibhsan a bha an dòchas gum biodh am Bile na chothrom crathadh bunaiteach a thoirt air an t-siostam, ach tha e ri fhaicinn ciamar a ghabhas caraidean an SNP, na h-Uainich, ri suidheachadh far a bheil na tuathanaich mhòra fhathast a’ dol a dh’fhaighinn na buannachd as motha.

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Cha robh atharrachadh gu tur a-riamh a’ dol a thighinn - a bharrachd air càil eile, tha feum air na tuathanaich mhòra airson biadh a chumail air na sgeilfichean - ach aig an aon àm, cha robh e cus smaoineachadh gun tigeadh cothromachadh a choireigin.

Tha e na phrionnsabal stèidhichte ann an iomadach roinn eile gum faigh iadsan aig a bheil na duilgheadasan as motha an taic as motha, ach chan e sin e dha àiteachais, agus làn choltais a-nis g’ eil e dol a leantainn.

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Bhon dràsta gu 2025, thuirt am ministear gum bi iad a’ coimhead ri dè na h-atharraichean a ghabhas a choileanadh airson barrachd a dhèanamh a thaobh na h-àrainneachd agus i ag ràdh g’ eil croitearan is tuathanaich air na h-uimhir a dhèanamh mar-thà. Uill, nach eil fhios gu bheil; chan eil iad cho gòrach ‘s nach dèanadh.

Bidh mòran a’ crochadh air dè na h-atharraichean a bhios ann, ach rudeigin coltach ris a’ Bhile fhèin, ‘s ann a tha barrachd cheistean ann na tha freagairtean.

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Tha an roinn gu lèir air a bhith mì-thoilichte mu cho beag a dh’fhiosrachadh ‘s a tha ann mun t-slighe air adhart, a thuilleadh air prionnsabal farsaing mun àrainneachd.

Bheir dol air ais gu bhith an urra ris an t-seann t-siostam an cothrom beagan anail a ghabhail agus bidh e na thoileachas dha cuid.

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Ach, uaireigin a choireigin ann an àm nach bi fada, feumar an dà thaobh - an àrainneachd agus gnìomhachas a’ bhidhe - a thoirt còmhla agus mura gabh a dhèanamh ann an dòigh rèidh, chiallach, bidh an t-àm ann a thighinn far an fheansa agus na brògan a chur sìos air taobh a choireigin.

English-language version:

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It maybe shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise that the much-vaunted Agriculture Bill, designed to usher in a new more environmentally friendly regime, has been pushed back to an as-yet undefined new date. In fact, cynics might argue that the ground was ripe for exactly that eventuality.

The objective set was never going to be easy: how to create more food production resilience on the domestic front while moving towards a drastic cut in sector emissions.

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But challenging as it may be, it shouldn't be impossible. There is a growing realisation of what “regenerative” agriculture can bring to the table in terms of long-term sustainability for the sector, both economically and environmentally.

The problem is that shifting financial support in one heave to that kind of principle would hit those whose working practices have been so dependent for so long on intensive and input-heavy farming.

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Rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon told parliament that, while they are not exactly consigning the new bill to the waste-paper basket, their focus will now turn to introducing changes to the current regime that will bring more of an environmental emphasis.

Crucially, this will mean that the tiered system of financial payments – with the best land, Region One, getting higher payments; less for Region Two; and the moorland and hills in Region Three getting a comparative pittance – will remain in place post 2025.

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This has understandably come as a bitter disappointment to those who hoped the Bill was an opportunity for meaningful reform, and it remains to be seen how the SNP’s coalition partners, the Greens, will take to the big winners in all of this continuing to be Big Farming.

In truth, a complete redirection of support was never going to happen – apart from anything else intensive farming is still needed to feed the nation – but, equally, a more equitable approach was not an unrealistic hope, or shouldn’t have been at least.

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In most other facets of public life, it’s a well-established principle that those who face the greatest challenges should receive the greatest support, but not in agriculture, it seems, and that inequity now looks set to continue.

Ms Gougeon said that, from now until 2025, they will concentrate on what “enhancements” they can bring to the current system to fulfil their environmental obligations, pointing out that the sector has already been moving that way. Well, of course, it has; it could hardly stand still.

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Much will depend on the detail of these enhancements, but just like the Bill itself, it currently more resembles a blank piece of paper with a general heading at the top of “More Green Needed”, probably underlined twice.

The entire sector has been disappointed by the Scottish Government’s inability – or reluctance – to elaborate and give a firm position on how they anticipate future schemes to operate. As Ms Gougeon herself concedes this latest move will do little to rectify that.

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A fallback position to the current system, but with enhancements, may bring about a little bit of breathing space for the government, while pacifying the more powerful, to a certain degree at least.

But sooner or later the environmental agenda and that of production will have to be reconciled properly and, if it cannot be done satisfactorily, it will finally be time to get off that fence.

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