Crofters for Yes was unveiled yesterday at the Black Isle Show, one of Scotland’s premier agricultural events.
Crofting is a form of land tenure and small-scale food production unique to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and it’ survival through the clearances make it a unique aspect of Scottish life. There are 17,725 crofts in Scotland, mainly in the Highlands and Islands, and around 33,000 people live in crofting households.
It’s a significant if small development because it’s one that begins to connect sovereignty with food sovereignty and democracy with land rights.
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.
Yes Scotland’s 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.”
The steering group of Crofting for Yes is made up of: Calum MacDonald, Allan Matheson, Charles Beaton, Alasdair Hunter, Peter Nicolson and Ann Blackford, all Skye; David Smith, Shetland and Norman Kerr, Lewis. Andrew Graeme, Jo Hunt, Easter Ross.
The Scottish Crofting Federation the largest association of small scale food producers in the UK.
The Crofting Commission which aims to regulate crofting, to ‘promote occupancy of crofts, active land use, and shared management by crofters, as a means of sustaining and enhancing rural communities.’