SNP challenge to Scottish agricultural establishment

Alyn Smith

Alyn Smith, the Scottish National Party’s agriculture spokesman, has challenged the country’s agricultural establishment, warning that: “Intensification in the old manner of throwing more energy and more chemicals at farmland simply cannot work in the long run…”

Smith is a Scottish MEP who sits on the European Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Agriculture Committee. His warning came in response to the FAO’s report The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW) and is at odds with the Scottish government’s Pack Report.

“We need to look seriously at how we can most effectively ‘green’ the Common Agricultural Policy, providing real incentives for Europe’s farmers to move in a more sustainable direction. It’s clear that the initial proposals from the Commission don’t necessarily stack up in being the best way forward,” he declared.

“We must see a maintenance of the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme, which is of crucial importance to so much of Scotland, so that we continue to see farming in environmentally sensitive areas and to prevent lowland intensification,” he told ARC 2020.

“It is also important that as we move forward with the CAP negotiations, that there is real investigation of the possibilities of introducing land managers options for soil and water management, as well as on the impact of crop rotation for greening,” he added.

“One further point that keeps recurring – more efforts must be made to encourage local production of feed. In an increasingly volatile world, we must have security of supply, and I hope that this point is kept front and centre as the new shape of the CAP becomes clearer,” Smith observed.

The EU currently imports more than two thirds of its vegetable protein requirements for livestock. Much of this comes from Latin America, where rain forest is being cleared to grow forage crops.

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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.