Tackling the Issues of Isolated Dairying in Scotland03 December 2013
UK – A Farmers Union tour of rural dairy farmers reached the Bute and Campbeltown communities last week to collaborate with farmers over challenges currently faced in dairy farming.
National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) Milk board chairman Gary Mitchell met with farmers to discuss Common Agricultural Policy reform, voluntary code of practice and dairy strategy review.
He revealed the area comprises five per cent of Scotland’s producers, many of which are hampered by limited access to mainland markets and tenancy issues, particularly on the Isle of Bute.
Bute Estates owns all the land and the tenant farmers called on the NFUS to develop initiatives, such as whole farm reviews and develop business advice schemes to progress farming on the island.
Speaking after the meetings, Mr Mitchell outlined some of the strengths of Campbeltown farming, such as the provenance of locally produced Mull of Kintyre cheese.
He said the commitment showed at the meetings demonstrated that farmers on Bute could unite in similar projects.
“This visit has changed my whole perception of this market,” said Mr Mitchell.
“Although the farmers feel like they are at a disadvantage at the moment, with restricted links to the mainland, they can just as much get things to go in their favour.
“The farmers are keen to develop their unique products, like Mull of Kintyre cheese. Bute’s farmers have ambitions to make something of their products - they have got a real opportunity. Bute Estates can work with the farmers to make Bute stand out on the map.”
“The dairy, beef and sheep sectors are now looking to join together and form a group and look at how to improve the efficiency for farms on the island, for example initiating a whole farm review to take this industry forward.
“From a dairy point of view stabilising production on the island and looking at opportunity to expand on that."
He added that First Milk's interest in the island's cheese as a 'realistic opportunity' was positive for a sustainable dairy future.
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