Making Scotland’s rural communities a priority

Making Scotland’s rural communities a priority

by Michelle Ballantyne
article from Thursday 6, February, 2020

I VOTED TO LEAVE the European union and I have been unapologetically pro-Brexit because like many others I know that voting to leave the EU was a vote of confidence in our own native industries. Like many farmers across Scotland I believe that their prosperity and in turn our own economic success could be better managed outside of the EU.

I welcome that Boris Johnson’s Government has given a clear commitment to continue providing the money received by farmers as a result of the CAP for the next five years. Giving a solid guarantee to provide the same level of support that our farmers have been receiving to provide the stability, certainty and confidence needed for the sector while we shape the future of our farming industry and bi-lateral trade agreements is the right thing to do.

Farming, like fishing, was one of the most discussed industries during the 2016 EU referendum debate. Central to the future of farming is the nature of the new trade deals we will strike across the world.

Ensuring the voice of our farming community is heard during the negotiations is a priority for me. The quality of British produce is globally renowned. I take immense pride in the high standards that are associated with British agricultural produce and I expect the new deals we make with other countries to allow this to continue.

We must support work to raise standards in the world agricultural market, not turn a blind eye to cheap produce and poorly-reared livestock. Leaving the EU is not an excuse for standards to drop. Now though, we will be table to tailor regulations as we see fit, creating solutions handmade for Scotland rather than finding a middle ground between us and 27 other nations.

There are, however, other ways we can support our farmers. By having a payments system that delivers money on time, and by providing faster government support when harsh weather causes livestock deaths. Many farmers waited months for CAP funding to come through, all while struggling to make ends meet, meaning uncertainty not only for them but also for the hard-working staff they employ. The SNP government has let down Scottish farmers repeatedly, whether it was miscalculating loans or mismanaging IT systems. This has gone on long enough and I will do all I can to ensure we have a system that supports rather than hinders farmers.  

This is where the other core pillar of my rural strategy comes in. Many people enjoy fantastic lives in the countryside but it’s no secret that many young people are leaving Scotland’s rural areas. Poor transport connections, even worse broadband speeds and a feeling of disconnect from Scotland’s cities has led to many young people leaving the countryside behind altogether.

With the advent of superfast internet, anyone should be able to set up a business anywhere. Not only will this allow rural diversification, it will enable greater growth of rural business and ensure that local talent is retained. We need to make our countryside an attractive place to live, work and start a family – and the first step to doing that is making sure that regardless of where you live in Scotland, you can fulfil your true potential.  

ThinkScotland exists thanks to readers' support - please donate in any currency and often

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter & like and share this article
To comment on this article please go to our facebook page