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View Scotland holistically, says farmers' group

THE Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) has told the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) that it disagrees with the "silo mentality", which seeks to restrict debate on the tenanted sector to bodies such as the Tenant Farming Forum (TFF) instead of seeking a more holistic overview of the future of Scotland's countryside.

The STFA response to the LRRG's call for evidence is based on a survey of members' views and can be summarised as:

l Land tenure and tenancy reform must be considered in the wider context of land reform, taking account of the contribution that the tenanted sector can make to food production, the environment and the economic and social prosperity of local communities;

l A land reform strategy should encourage greater diversity of ownership of land and a structure of diverse, land-based businesses to maintain viable, local economies and vibrant communities;

l New routes into agriculture must be created through innovative proposals such as share farming, and by broadening access opportunities to existing tenancies;

l STFA members have divided views over the extension of right-to-buy legislation, but acknowledge the need to tackle the core issues which provoke such widespread dissatisfaction and frustration;

l The LRRG should consider the creation of a Land Agency with powers to intervene where there is evidence of land abandonment, mismanagement or inappropriate use of land;

l Succession to traditional secure tenancies should be broadened to include a wider class of relative;

l And extending the assignation provision to a wider group of suitably qualified people would assist in the preservation of "secure" tenancies, encourage retirement and provide possible entry for new entrants through share farming, or other arrangements.

United Auctions sold 777 store bullocks at Stirling on Wednesday to a top of 244.2p per kg and an average of 207.2p (-5.4p on the week), while 587 store heifers peaked at 228.4p and levelled at 198.9p (-4.9p). Fifty-nine young bulls sold to 243.2p and averaged 211p.

In the rough ring, 214 cast cows averaged 124.4p.

The Cumberland and Dumfriesshire Farmers Mart had 59 prime cattle forward in Dumfries on Wednesday, when bullocks sold to 206.5p and averaged 204.6p, while heifers peaked at 230.5p and levelled at 209.9p.

There were 65 OTM cattle presented in the rough ring, with beef cows averaging 122.1p and dairy cows levelling at 104.2p.

The firm also had 736 prime hoggs that were a moderate show for quality selling to £77 per head and 188p per kg and averaging 140.8p.

The 278 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £101.50 for Texels while rams peaked at £74.50 for Suffolks.

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Agriculture

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