Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron yesterday (Wednesday 27th May) reminded decision-makers in Holyrood that crofters and farmers have worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic – while Comhairle nan Eilean Siar stated their activities should be minimised.
Mr Cameron, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Finance Secretary, submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament drawing attention to the contribution the agricultural sector has made during the current crisis.
Mr Cameron said: “Many people in the sector were surprised when Nicola Sturgeon recently announced that people in agriculture could go back to work on May 28th.
“Of course, our farmers and crofters have been working non-stop throughout the pandemic.
“In fact, the last couple of months has been extremely busy with lambing and calving, not to mention sowing crops.
“Keeping the nation fed is an essential service and our farmers and crofters are critical to providing food and produce across the UK.
“I make no apology for pointing that out to the politicians and bureaucrats down in Holyrood.
”Our crofters and farmers deserve our respect as well as our thanks."
Mr Cameron’s motion reads: "That the Parliament recognises the important contribution to the national effort against COVID-19 being made by Scotland's farmers, crofters and growers; acknowledges that, while many sectors of the economy continue to be in a temporary pause, much of the agricultural sector has continued unabated to produce food and manage land; understands the importance of agriculture and believes that, too often, farmers, crofters and growers carry out their work with little appreciation; wishes everyone involved in the agricultural sector well over the coming period and beyond, and thanks them for everything that they do."
However, CnES said in a media release yesterday: "Crofters are advised to minimise moving and gathering animals unless it is essential or it is for welfare-related activities like shearing.
"Crofters should adopt good hygiene practices and if people from more than one household are involved in activities then they should plan their activities to ensure that they can practice social distancing.
"Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be considered in line with any national guidance. Similar rules apply to related animal activities including vets attending stock, farriers coming on to the island, and hauliers taking stock on and off the islands.
"Peat is still commonly used to provide fuel for households in the islands, therefore peat-cutting is allowed under the current restrictions. If people from more than one household are involved, then they should plan their activities to ensure that they can practice social distancing."
CnES adds, however, that the rules will change as the lockdown is relaxed and crofters are reminded to follow the latest Scottish Government advice which can be found at: www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19.