03 November 2021
We are delighted to share our episode from ScotLand Matters: The Scottish Land and Estates Podcast. Our managing director, David Seed, speaks alongside Scottish Land and Estates’s CEO Sarah-Jane Laing and Professor Russel Griggs, discussing the future of rural businesses in the South of Scotland.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted workforce shortages in rural businesses within the South of Scotland, especially in farming and land management. There is an increased need to encourage young people into land-based careers and to stay within the area. While farming is affected by a lack of people, it has been one of the least affected industries and has benefitted from record-level prices for cereals, beef and lamb.
It is the next stage, which is now the concern for farmers. There is a lack of guidance from the government on how they will support change as focus shifts to Net Zero, climate change and carbon sequestration. The South of Scotland are well-positioned with lots of hills and upland for renewables and capturing carbon. People are ready for the challenge we just lack guidance and information from the government.
There is a need for significantly more people in the borders, although there are issues with house development opportunities and infrastructure that are way behind other regions. We must tempt young people into land-based careers with education in schools of the opportunities available. There is competition with other regions and sectors that offer higher wages. With the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) going, we need to know what we are aiming for to be able to train people.
In terms of combating climate change, there is a need for more honesty. Farmers are under attack and politicians are under increasing pressure to make changes but do so without thinking of the practicalities. We are stuck in limbo with environmental schemes having come to an end and no new ones in the pipeline, making it difficult to advise clients on the next steps.
In the past, there has not been a need to promote our products, but we must get better at marketing and using the produce from our local land. Covid raised awareness of the products we produce in our local area however, there is concern that trade will slip back to pre-pandemic levels. The hospitality industry also shares this concern with worries that the number of people taking staycations will drop. David emphasises the importance of getting all elements right to ensure people come back to the area.
It is important to embrace the change and act proactively to ensure a successful future for the South of Scotland. Contact our team if you would like more information on any of the topics covered.
In conversation with: FBR Seed’s David Seed, Professor Russel Griggs and SLE’s Sarah-Jane Laing on the future of rural businesses in the South of Scotland by ScotLand Matters: The Scottish Land & Estates Podcast (anchor.fm)