Just as many of us are mulling over the new SNP Green alliance, I’m thinking dung. This has no reflection on my support for green issues or any relationship which means a move to total Independence from all quarters. But my daily existence as a farmer is looking at what is expected of the industry by the decision makers. As agriculture, horticulture and all areas of the food and drink industry are the most regulated industries on the planet, we are not free to do as we like right now. Quite rightly so, as when we become an Independent nation food security should be given top ten billing, the only worry should be air miles from Lerwick or Islay!
Given that Scotland has a robust food and drink sector and doesn’t have vast land prairies where the soil has been starved because of endless mono cropping, we still rely on thousands of businesses around the country producing the best food and drink from kitchen tables to high tech factories. But the quality is just as high.
But how do we do all this within the green agenda? Well, Scotland has robust agencies like SEPA who who keep us all in our toes. However, our son is farming, at 26 he sees a life in farming as a positive, but the fact is, most Scottish farmers are over 60, with many young talented youngsters coming out of our agricultural colleges wasted, not because there are no opportunities, it’s because banks and institutions look at these resources of the future as just not bankable. The green strategy need to make these young food producers not just a positive economic workforce, but a viable group who need support and that we all are working with the land, the people and its opportunities, not just for this generation but for generations to come.
So why worry about dung? There is a green movement in England who have ended all dung use, a natural product which puts bacteria back in the soil. But they are also calling for the removal of cattle, sheep, chicken and pig rearing. I can understand why those who don’t eat meat find animal foodstuffs appalling. But for us that do eat meat, if it’s all gone there will be no need for family farms, hedges, tree shelters or crofts, for there will be no requirements for stock so no need for these, unless for only window dressing. You can’t eat scenery, but you can eat what the scenery can grow. Providing we are allowed to do what we are good at in the future. In an Independent Scotland, it would be good to see the Saltire on all our food and drink, but let’s nurture all tastes, work to our terrain as we do now, and let nature do its job. Let’s hear it for dung!