Tha mòran fhathast ri dhèanamh air Bile an Àiteachais, le Murray MacLeòid

Leis gu bheilear a’ bruidhinn mu 800 millean not de dh’airgead poblach gach bliadhna, tha e caran iongantach nach eilear air barrachd a chluinntinn mu Bhile Àiteachais ùir an riaghaltais.

Tha am bile ùr dol a thoirt crathadh air subsadaidhean àiteachais.
Tha am bile ùr dol a thoirt crathadh air subsadaidhean àiteachais.

[English-language version below]

Ach, tha dà adhbhar math airson seo. Sa chiad dol a-mach, tha gnothaichean gu math nas cudromaiche air aire dhaoine an-dràsta (mar a tha prìsean connaidh a’ sìor dol am meud agus an cruadail a tha dol a thighinn le sin) agus cuideachd, ‘s ann a thig an obair mhòr air a’ bhile a dheànamh an ath bhliadhna co dhiù, nuair a bhios aige ri dhol tro Phàrlamaid na h-Alba.

Gu ruige seo, chan e ach iadsan a chì a’ bhuaidh as motha – croitearan is tuathanaich gu sònraichte – a tha air an guth a thogail agus dh’fhaodadh a ràdh nach eil iad ro thoilichte.

‘S e seo an crathadh as motha a tha a’ dol a thighinn air susbsadaidh an àiteachais ann an ginealach agus tha e follaiseach gun robh làn dùil ri barrachd feòil air an cnàmhan aig an ìre seo.

Mar a thuirt Stiùiriche Poileasaidh Aonadh nan Tuathanach, Seonaidh Hall: “Tha e deuchainneach air leth nach eil Riaghaltas na h-Alba air roghainnean cinnteach a chur an cèill mu chiamar a gheibh na cumhachdan ùra a thig leis a’ bhile a chleachdadh airson àrach-bidhe a chur aig cridhe buannachdan eaconamaigich, soisealta is àrainneachd.”

Aon rud a tha am bile a’ moladh, ‘s e ’s gum bu chòir dhan dàrna leth dhen airgead a bhith air a cheangal ri coinneachadh targaidean air an àrainneachd, rud ris an robh dùil agus làn fhios gu feumar gluasad gu dòighean obrachd a tha nas uaine.

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Tha èiginn le suidheachadh nan dotairean teaghlaich, le Murray MacLeòid

Ach, mar a tha faclan an aonaidh a’ sealltainn, tha feum air coimhead ri gnothach eile cuideachd – ‘s e sin, na tha sinn ag àrach de bhiadh anns an dùthaich seo fhèin a leudachadh, rud a tha gu mòr far comhair a-nis le cogadh Ucràin agus sinn cus an urra ri na margaidhean eadar-nàiseanta.

Tha e gu bhith gu math duilich cothromachadh a dhèanamh air na diofar feumalachdan, ma ghabhas a dhèanamh idir.

Mar eisimpleir, ma chuireas tu am fearann gu lèir fo chraobhan, gun teagamh tha sin a’ coinneachadh ri dleasdanasan na h-àrainneachd, ach tha e a' toirt an fhearainn sin air falbh bho bhiadh agus feumar an uair sin, barrachd a thoirt a-staigh bho dhùthchannan eile. Cà’ bheil sin a’ fàgail carbon cothromach?

An uair sin, tha an sgaradh a tha anns a’ ghnìomhachas fhèin. Aig aon cheann, tha na gnìomhachasan mòra àranta a tha cho cudromach ann an a bhith a' cumail stuth air sgeilfichean nam bùthan mora.

Air an taobh eile, tha na tuathanachasan beinne, le stoc a’ ruith thairis raointean mòra. Ged nach eil iad a’ cruthachadh an t-uabhas bidhe, tha iad riatanach an dèidh sin airson cumadh a thoirt air na glinn is na monaidhean, le beathaichean ag inilt ga fhaicinn an-diugh nas cudromaiche a thaobh a bhith a’ brosnachadh beathaichean is lusan.

Chan eil e cho fada sin bhuaithe bho bha gach siostam ag obair làmh ri làimh ri chèile, mus tàinig cuideam bhon mhargaidh a bha a’ ciallachadh gu feumadh gnìomhachasan fàs na bu mhotha airson cosgaisean a chumail sios.

Leis nach eil am bile ach aig ìre trath fhathast, ‘s dòcha nach eil e ro anmoch cuairt bheag a ghabhail tro eachdraidh agus faicinn dè na leasanan practaigeach a tha rim faighinn.

Bhiodh dol air ais gu mar a bha cùisean uaireigin gu math tarraingeach ann an iomadach seadh, agus choinnicheadh e ri feumalachdan an là an-diugh cuideachd.

English-language version:

Considering we are talking about the annual distribution of £800 million of taxpayers' money, the response to date to the Scottish Government’s Agriculture Bill could be described as somewhat subdued.

However, there are two things to bear in mind. Firstly, there are obviously far more pressing matters dominating the political discourse right now (soaring energy costs) and, secondly, the real work in devising this new piece of legislation will only really take place once it winds its way through the Scottish Parliament next year.

So far, it’s only those who stand to be the most directly affected by the change – farmers and crofters – who have raised their voices and their response can only be described as lukewarm.

With the bill set to be the biggest shake-up in the system of agriculture support in a generation, there was clearly an expectation of a lot more detail in the consultation, even if it is, at this stage, merely primary legislation setting out a direction of travel, with much of the nuts and bolts still to come.

But, even still.

Take this from National Farmers Union Scotland director of policy Jonnie Hall: “It remains hugely frustrating that the Scottish Government has yet to set out any clear options as how any new powers created by the new Agriculture Bill can best be used to underpin active farming and crofting and put food production at the heart of delivering all the economic, social and environmental benefits that active agricultural businesses deliver across Scotland.”

One thing the bill proposes is that 50 per cent of all future direct funding will be conditional on meeting certain environmental and biodiversity measures.

That was only to be expected as there will inevitably – and rightly – be more of a “green” weighting.

But, as the statement by the NFU suggests, there is also an equally important imperative at play – that of the need to increase domestic food production, which events in Ukraine have helped draw into sharp focus.

Satisfying these dual demands is going to require one hell of a balancing act.

For example, covering the countryside in trees will certainly tick the environmental obligation box, but will remove more land from food production with the result that more will need to be imported. What then for the overall carbon footprint and resilience?

Then there are the conflicting priorities within the actual industry itself. On one end of the scale you have large arable operations, which can rightly be described as the engine room of food production and crucial in keeping the supermarket shelves stacked.

On the other side you have the likes of traditional hill farms and crofts, with livestock covering vast acreages of often rough vegetation.

They may not produce food in vast quantities, but they are crucial in terms of shaping Scotland’s famous countryside and also in terms of developing sensitive management, with grazing systems increasingly being seen as important elements in helping to promote biodiversity.

It is not that long ago that both systems existed hand in glove in true mixed farming operations, before market pressures forced a necessity to chase economies of scale, with all the inherent dangers that brings.

With the new Agriculture Bill still at an early “direction of travel" stage, maybe it’s not too late to take a trip down memory lane and see what the past can offer in terms of offering a very practical solution to the demands of today.

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