It is not possible to consider Scottish farming policy without acknowledging the dominance of the European Union and the "Common Agricultural Policy" (CAP).
A critical reason why many farmers in Scotland cannot make an adequate living is because our farming is under-funded in relation to our EU competitors.
Two other key reasons are cheap food imports and supermarket power.
In order to deliver a future for Scottish farming, we articulate an alternative model to the CAP, based upon our 10 Principles to Put the Culture back into Agriculture:
1) Localisation, not Globalisation 2) Food Sovereignty, not Food Dependence 3) Natural Farming 4) Animal Welfare 5) Pastoralism 6) Bio-diversity 7) Urban Farming 8) Permaculture 9) Opposition to Corporate Control, and 10) Solidarity with Farmers Internationally.
All policies are based upon these principles, and all financial subsidies should be directed towards their advancement.
For example, some policies to promote local food:
- Roll out the Appointment of Local Food Officers throughout Scotland, who will work to develop local food initiatives and local sourcing and marketing networks.
- Develop new Markets. Schools, hospitals and public institutions should be encouraged to source food locally and nationally..
- Promote Nutritious food for Growing Children. Schools, especially, represent a major potential market for Scottish production. Throughout Britain, free fruit in school would ensure a domestic market for up to 40% of UK fruit production. Free organic milk should be available for all youngsters in Primary school.
- Cut Business Rates to Support Small Traders. Five percent of Scottish corner shops have gone bust each year over the past decade. If the trend continues, 1500 more will go out of business over the next 10 years. We advocate a cut in business rates to enable small businesses to survive in competition against supermarkets.
- Legislate to Oppose Supermarket Monopoly
We need to address the monopoly grip upon the food supply of processors, retailers and international traders, which is making farmgate prices too low for a farmer to make a living. We oppose any further opening of mini-supermarkets on our streets. Lord Sainsbury, for example, is a major financier of the Labour Party, giving £2.5million recently, and consequently, Labour-controlled councils are allowing his growing network of mini-supermarkets -- misnamed "locals" -- to open on our streets.
- Encourage Community-Supported Markets.
- Re-open Local Abattoirs to assist the process of localisation, and the de-centralisation of the food industry.
- Invest in Green Spaces in towns, for parks, playing fields, allotments, community gardens, and city farms.
- Encourage the Power of Consumer Patriotism by supporting local and country-of-origin labelling.
- Defend our Borders. Farmers cannot be expected to maintain high environmental and animal welfare standards at the same time as increased trade liberalisation undermines them by allowing cheap imports from countries with poor standards, as well as illegal food imports which bring disease.
In addition, we want to:
- Encourage young farmers with tax breaks and interest-free loans.
- Slash and simplify the complicated, time consuming and costly bureaucracy which has "taken the joy out of farming." The guiding principles are: Keep it Minimal, Keep it Simple.
- Support farming co-operatives, for example, with tax breaks.
- Educate school children by making regular farm and country visits part of the school curriculum.
- Oppose the Foot and Mouth culling policy. It is symptomatic of a fundamentally unsustainable, industrial, factory-style approach to farming, and we have campaigned extensively against it.
A FUTURE FOR FISHING
Our fishing communities have been discarded overboard by the politicians and bureaucrats, who have usurped the people's decision-making power, and consequently betrayed them.
The first step to re-empowering these local communities is to remove the power from the supra-national politicians, and put it back in the hands of the people.
Practically speaking, that means, firstly, freeing ourselves from the Common Fisheries Policy, to ensure the local community has the freedom to fish as it chooses -- with security, provided if necessary, at the national level by HM Armed Forces.
In order to achieve the policy objectives of rebuilding fishing communities and ensuring proper environmental management of fish stocks, we must re-establish control of Britain's 200-mile exclusive fishing zone. If each country caught fish in areas that were exclusive to itself, there would be an incentive to conserve and nurture fish stocks. We would restore respect for the ocean's providence and we would rebuild fishing communities.
We advocate withdrawing from the CFP. This is a reserved issue at Westminster, but we will nonetheless campaign in the Scottish Parliament to publicise this necessity.
Once a community has a secure freedom to fish, it will then have the power in its own hands to determine its own existence -- which will require tempering its freedom, with its technical, economic and ecological wisdom.
This secure freedom may also lead to fishing communities being able to co-operate internationally with other similarly secure fishing communities Europe-wide, in order to reach where possible, mutually respectful arrangements which benefit each other's economies and ecologies.
We are Animal Welfare advocates. We make a distinction between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights. "Animal Rights" is a theory, and lifestyle, which claims that animals have the same "rights" as humans, and therefore should not be "exploited". This leads to the comparison that livestock farming - of any kind - is equivalent to human slavery and genocide. Consequently, all Animal Rightists are vegans (not just vegetarians). Animal Welfare, however, is a different concept.
- An end to Live Exports which are widely known to be cruel. We argue for new markets based on Localisation and Food Sovereignty, and for financial compensation and subsidies to enable farming to move this way.
- An end to "Factory Farming". The main areas for advocacy in Britain today are the ending of battery cages -- including the so-called "enriched cages" scheduled to replace the smaller cages -- intensive meat production of chickens, turkeys and ducks, and intensive pig farming. We want research and development and subsidies to be directed to help agriculture move towards more natural and organic methods of production.
- Rigid application of quality control to keep out food imports which do not conform to our animal welfare standards. These cheap imports are directly responsible for putting Scottish farmers out of business, as well as being morally indefensible by our own standards.
- Oppose SI 255 which offends both the principles of animal welfare and civil liberties.
- An end to Vivisection. There is no animal testing for cosmetics allowed in Britain. However, we advocate a ban on imported cosmetics which have been animal-tested. While we recognise that, in some cases, there may still be a need to use animal testing in medical or military (self-defence) research, we aim to phase this out and encourage alternative research methods.