Highland crofter Fiona MacDonald is urging everyone in the crofting community to get involved with the upcoming Crofting Commission elections.
Ms MacDonald, who runs a croft at Strathkanaird, near Ullapool, said crofters needed to be at the top table at the commission, which is the government agency with responsibility for crofting.
“Crofting facilitates a lot of Scotland’s agriculture, especially small-scale agriculture that is managed by people who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise; without it, the land would fall into disuse. Culturally, crofting is important and it’s a great tradition, but it’s important to adapt and change,” said Ms MacDonald.
“That’s why we need crofters to be involved in the Crofting Commission, so we can truly represent the crofting community as only crofters know and understand the realities of crofting.”
Ms Macdonald’s comments come following the publication of draft regulations ahead of Crofting Commission elections in March 2017.
The amended regulations cover: the process for appointing a new commissioner, should a vacancy arise before 2022; who should be able to stand for election; absent and proxy votes; and the maximum amount and process for election expenses. No changes will be made to the six constituency boundaries.
A public consultation on the amended regulations took place earlier this year and MSPs will now vote on the changes.
Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said it was crucial the interests of Scotland’s 16,000 crofters were well represented at the commission.
He said: “We need people with a commitment to ensuring a longer term future for crofting to stand for election. It’s also so important that all crofters make their voices heard by voting in March’s election.”
The elections, which take place on March 17, 2017, will see six crofters elected as commissioners on the board at the commission. A further three will be appointed by Scottish Government.
Any crofter wishing to stand for election must put themselves forward by January 6, 2017.
Voting takes place from March 3 to March 16, 2017.
Ms MacDonald added: “Voting in the 2017 elections is really important – crofters need to vote in order for it to be credible and effective. A hands on approach is required, be that putting yourself forward for the position of commissioner or turning up to vote on the day.”