A chance to have your say on land reform
In a guest blog for NFU Scotland, our Good Practice Adviser, Karen Grant, urges Scotland’s farmers and crofters to respond to the Scottish Government's public consultation on proposals for the Land Reform Bill by 30 October to ensure land reform works for the farming community.
While the weather may have stayed settled over harvest time on our mixed livestock and arable farm on the Moray coast, we are all aware of the stormy times ahead; farmers – like many sectors – are already experiencing huge hikes in input costs, and great challenges in business planning for the coming year.
Away from the farm, my other job is as a Good Practice Adviser with the Scottish Land Commission – a public body with a role in advising on land reform, land rights and responsibilities, and building constructive working relationships with all kinds of stakeholders with an interest in land. I am acutely aware of the importance of talking to as many different land owners and managers as possible, to get a sense of the practical realities they are facing, acknowledging good work that is already being done, and considering fair and practical ways of handling situations which could be better.
Staffing the Commission’s stand at the Royal Highland Show this year, we heard from many farmers concerned about how the trajectory of land reform might affect them. Many felt that the importance of food production and food security did not always receive proper consideration in land use decision-making. Others felt under attack from public perception of the causes of climate change and wanted to demonstrate how farming could become part of the way forward for climate resilience and mitigation.
It was also clear that a huge number of young farmers and new entrants face serious difficulties in accessing land or housing, limiting their opportunity to run a successful rural business. It is crucial that these voices are heard in the public conversation around land reform and land use.
Members of NFUS will be aware of the current Scottish Government consultation on the Land Reform Bill, which remains open for responses until 30 October. This is part of the ongoing land reform process aiming to ensure that Scotland’s land is owned and managed in a way that helps deliver for the economy, the environment, and the resilience and wellbeing of our communities. It is crucial that members of the farming community engage with this consultation and send in their responses.
Of course, NFUS will be sending in a response on your behalf, as will other representative bodies, but the voice of individual farmers is important too. You can take a look at the consultation here and view the Scottish Land Commission’s resources created to assist respondents.
The topic of land reform has scope for a broad and varied discussion, and the route forward can only be found when we communicate well with each other and are realistic about practical ways forward. There is no doubt that positive change is needed, and it is up to us all to help shape it into something that works for the country as a whole.
Please do send in your responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation before 30 October. The voices of the farming community – and everyone with an interest in land ownership and management – are essential in helping the Scottish Government to shape a Land Reform Bill that is fair, representative of public, private and community interest, and that helps deliver all Scotland needs from its land. The opportunity to shape it isn’t one to be missed.