Tha crathadh bunaiteach air fàire dha taic àiteachais, tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh

Nan turchaireadh tu air fèill-reic bheathaichean an-dràsta ann an àite sam bith ann an Alba, gheibheadh thu a-mach glè luath gu bheil croitearan is tuathanaich ann an sunnd, rud ris nach eil iad idir cleachdte.

Tha prìsean math air a bhith aig na fèilltean-reic, a fàgail tuathanaich is croitearan air an dòigh, ach tha draghan fhathast ann mu na tha air fàire (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

[English-language version below]

Seo àm trang an fhoghair nuair a tha na h-uain is na laoigh gan reic airson an dàrna cuid feòil no airson an tuilleadh reamhrachaidh shìos gu deas an àiteigin.

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A dh’aindeoin nan dragh a bhathas an dùil a thigeadh le Brexit tha na prìsean air èirigh gu mòr. Tha a h-uile coltas g’ eil daoine ann an seo fhèin a’ dol air ais gu feòil uain is feòil mairt na h-Alba. ‘S nach math sin.

Bhiodh e reusanta gu leòr a-rèist smaoineachadh gu bheil an gnìomhachas a’ coimhead air adhart le dòchas. Ach, bhiodh sin na mhì-thuigse air roinn a tha cugallach is toinnte is mì-chinnteach.

Tha atharraichean gu math bunaiteach air fàire agus ‘s e an luchd-poileataigs a dhearbhas dè tha gu bhith fa-near dhan ghnìomhachas, fada nas mòtha na cia mheud duine a tha a’ ceannach feòla airson diathad na Sàbaid.

Thairis na mìosan ri thighinn, beachdaichidh Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus Pàrlamaid na h-Alba air dè seòrsa taic’ a bhios ann dha obair àiteachais. Ron a seo, bha sin ga dheànamh aig ìre Eòrpach tro Phoileasaidh Choitcheann an Àiteachais.

Ach, chan eil sin idir ann a-nis agus tha saorsa aig an luchd-poileataigs an rud a thogras iad a dhèanamh; faodaidh iad an sgrìob fhèin a threabhadh, mar gum biodh.

Thathas a’ gabhail dheth gum bi an taic, nas motha na bha, air a roinn a-mach a thaobh bhuannachdan àrainneachd; ged a dh’fheumas sin a thomhas còmhla ri a bhith a’ dèanamh cinnteach gum faighear fhathast air biadh a chruthachadh ann an seo fhèin – chan eil càil a mhath a bhith a’ toirt ar cuid bidhe bho gach ceàrnaidh dhen t-saoghal, ma tha sinn dha-rìribh a’ dol a ghabhail ri ar dleasdanasan air an àrainneachd ann an seadh farsaing.

‘S e an duilgheadas le bhith a’ cruthachadh siostam ùr, gu bheil trì diofar mheuran anns an aon roinn: obair àiteachais traidiseanta, gnìomhachasan mòra àranta agus luchd nan oighreachd a tha airson am pòcaidean a lìonadh.

Bidh na companaidhean mòra a’ cumail a-mach, le tòrr de dh’fhìrinn, gur iadsan a tha cudromach a thaobh a bhith a’ cumail biadh ri beul dhaoine agus bidh na tuathanasan traidiseanta, a-rithist le brìgh nach gabh a dhiùltadh, ag ràdh gur iadsan a tha a' coimhead às dèidh nam monaidhean agus an fhearainn a tha prìseil dhan àrainneachd. Dhaibh-san a tha a’ lìonadh am pòcaidean, chan eil iad ach a’ feitheamh a’ chothroim an tuilleadh dheth a dhèanamh.

Bha amas an Riaghaltais raointean mòra dhen fhearran a chur fo chraobhan airson gluasad gu bhith carbon cothromach, furasta a thuigsinn, ach dh’adhbhraich e an droch rud ris nach robh dùil: chaidh na tuathanasan traidiseanta a reic agus luchd an airgid airson brath a ghabhail air an taic a th’ ann airson craobhan a chur. Bha biast a’ feitheamh air falach agus droch bhìt aice.

Chan eil e idir gu bhith furasta siostam ùr taic’ a chruthachadh a chuireas cuideam air gnothaichean na h-arainneachd agus a bheir cothrom dhan obair cumail a’ dol – agus air nach fhaigh luchd an airgid nan làmhan grod timcheall – ach tha e cudromach gum faigh an luchd-poileataigs seo ceart an turas-sa, ma tha àite ceart gu bhith aig obair àiteachais ann an Alba anns an t-saoghal ùr chaochlaideach a tha mar coinneimh.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

It may not be everyone’s idea of a nice day out, but if you happen to chance open a livestock auction mart right now, you will likely find crofters and farmers in a rather buoyant frame of mind, for a welcome change.

This is the busy autumn sale season when lambs and calves are taken off their home pastures and sold to buyers to enter the food chain or for further fattening.

Despite catastrophic warnings over Brexit, with much of Scotland’s lamb traditionally bound for the tabletops of France, market values have actually increased. It seems the domestic consumer is starting to fall in love again with Scotch lamb and beef.

So, it would be a reasonable assumption then to believe that the prognosis for agriculture, or at least its livestock sector, is rather positive. But that would be to misunderstand this most complex of industries.

Away from the excitement and din of the auction mart and the mundane day-to-day responsibility of actually looking after animals, there are some profound changes on the horizon and it’s ultimately going to be the politicians who will shape its future direction, much more so than to what degree beef, and in particular lamb, ends up on our plates.

Over the coming months, the Scottish government and Scottish Parliament will determine the distribution of about £400 million of agriculture support. Previously it was decided on a European level through the Common Agricultural Policy and merely administered on a member level basis.

But with CAP off the agenda, politicians have, to all intents and purposes, a free rein; an open field in which they can plough their own furrow, if you will.

It’s widely accepted that future support post-2024 will be more driven towards the environment, although that has to be carefully balanced with the need to maintain production – shipping in produce from all corners of the globe that we can grow or rear ourselves makes little sense if we are to take our wider responsibilities seriously.

The difficulty with identifying a new framework of support is that the sector really comprises three disparate groups: what you might call traditional agricultural units (and crofts); large arable businesses and landowners; and speculators.

The large arable businesses will maintain, with some justification, that they are the real drivers of putting food on the plate, while the traditional family farms will argue, again entirely justifiably, that they are key to maintaining biodiverse landscapes. The speculators, meanwhile, will just wait for the loopholes.

There is a recent example which should serve as a warning. The Scottish government’s drive to cover large swathes of the countryside in trees – planting 18,000 hectares by 2024 – as part of the move towards a carbon-neutral economy was entirely laudable, but it resulted in one unintended and unfortunate consequence: hill farms, key to the management of sensitive habitats, were swallowed up by speculators keen to take advantage of favourable support for planting trees. There was a nasty devil hiding in the undergrowth.

Creating a new overarching support structure that rewards environmental activity while maintaining reasonable levels of production – and avoiding lining the pockets of those that scarcely need or deserve it – will be no easy balancing act, as recent history has demonstrated.

But it’s crucial that the politicians get it right this time, if Scotland’s farming and food sector is to have any kind of prosperous and sustainable future in a rapidly changing world.

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