CROFTERS backing independence are launching a country-wide group to campaign for a yes vote in next year’s referendum.
Crofters for Yes is being unveiled today at the Black Isle Show, one of Scotland’s premier agricultural events.
An initial eight-member steering group made up of prominent voices in crofting will be putting forward the case for a Yes vote.
Steering group member Anne Blackford, a crofter from Skye, said: “Achieving control of our future in Scotland and crofting reform have always gone hand-in-hand.
“When the Scottish Land League was established in the 19th century, crofters recognised they could only achieve justice when political power was returned to Scotland.
“The same is true today. Crofting, which is very much based on sustainability, can only be strengthened when we have independence - when our interests will be fully represented in Edinburgh and importantly in Brussels where so many of the key decisions affecting our financial sustainability will be taken.”
With the successful launch of Farming for Yes last week, Yes Scotland is now highlighting the vital role crofting communities will bring to the independence debate including showcasing the provision of a skilled and diverse workforce, support for rural populations and an important contribution to tourism, including the growing food tourism industry.
There are 17,725 crofts in Scotland, mainly in the Highlands and Islands, and around 33,000 people live in crofting households.
Norman Kerr, a crofter from Barvas on the Isle of Lewis, said: “Scotland is best placed to fight its own corner in Europe when it comes to crofting - we can no longer afford to leave that task to an unaccountable Westminster Government.
“You only need to look at Finland, an independent country with around the same population as Scotland, where in the most recent Rural Development Budget, small farmers were awarded 138 Euros per Hectare in EU support compared to the 20 Euros per Hectare obtained by the UK for crofters and small farmers in Scotland.
“Crofting is not an easy way of life, but it is one very distinctive to Scotland. Its distinctive needs must be decided in Scotland if it is to survive and flourish.”
Yes Scotland’s interest group coordinator Toni Giugliano said: “Scotland’s agriculture sector is one that we can be rightly proud of. It is a proud tradition that not only plays an important role in economy of northern Scotland, but it also plays a part in shaping people’s identity in the Highlands and Islands.
“A Yes vote means a direct voice in Europe, a fair share of CAP funding and the strongest possibility of crofters views being heard and stood up for.”