A new smallholders association has been formed in Scotland to represent the 20,000 small-scale producers who farm 30 hectares of land or less.
Smallholding Scotland chairman, Rosemary Champion, says no other organisation is currently able to represent the specific aims and issues of the sector at government level.
“When changes are made to grant schemes, for instance, we are not consulted like the crofters are – yet the Scottish Government’s agricultural census shows that we make up a third of all holdings in the country. And there are probably even more if you count all the small acreages where horses are kept, so we are a substantial sector,” she said.
“We are focused on providing access to land and local abattoirs, securing support for traditional breeds and financial support for small-scale farming and horticulture.
“We also want to provide an information resource for members because many of us have come to agriculture after careers in other sectors.”
To thrash out the issues and understand the priorities of members and prospective members, Smallholding Scotland is holding a conference at Pitcairngreen in Perthshire later this month where the focus will be on networking and learning.
Mrs Champion described the event as an important milestone for the organisation. “We might not be able to host a representative from all 20,000 smallholdings in the venue, but we do believe that our line-up of first-class speakers should attract a good audience eager to learn something new to take back to their own smallholding enterprise,” she said.
Soil health and sustainable management of soils are key topics and delegates will hear from crop and environmental expert, Audrey Litterick, on the GREATsoils Project, and established smallholder, Lorraine Ishak on a permaculture project.
There will also be sessions on the care of new-born livestock, the use of social media and routes to market for agricultural produce.