From idle land to abundant harvests: Duncan Macalister's vision for Scotland's farming future

From idle land to abundant harvests: Duncan Macalister's vision for Scotland's farming future

Duncan Macalister farms 2000 acres at Glenbarr Farms in the Kintyre Peninsula,  a remote part of West Scotland and is also a member of the Scottish Farmers Union. 

The President of the Scottish National Farming Union has been talking about the sector being in a prime position to deliver food on a global scale amid environmental challenges.

Macalister told REX host Dominic George he agrees that more could be done with the resources available to Scottish farmers.

"We could produce one heck of a lot more than what we are doing," he said.

"There's just land sitting idle, doing very little."

Macalister explained this attitude is likely due to the current subsidy system which allows land owners to collect up to tens of thousands of pounds for land they own regardless of whether it is being used in a productive way or not.

"If you're sitting on land, you're able to collect a subsidy, you don't have to do anything with it."

He told George he knows of farms that could have around 1000 acres of land, only farm 10 ewes and collect up to £30,000 through the subsidy.

"That's okay, but it's not really okay."

Although he admitted it is largely a result of the subsidy package that has historically been in place in Scotland, Macalister feels it is about time that legislation changes to a more activity-based subsidy system where land owners have to produce something to receive a subsidy package.

"This sitting there and doing very little, those days are numbered. It's just soaking money out of the Scottish Agricultural Port and it's not actually achieving anything.

"It's nonsense, it's got to change."

Macalister believes that it is the job of the agriculture industry to provide food to their country and the world, and said by encouraging these landowners to cultivate their own produce of any kind on their farms, the UK could significantly increase its internal food production as well as potential export markets.

"We're only 54% self-sufficient in the UK of all foods, that's pathetic.

"In this day and age, we could be producing one heck of a lot more food."

Listen to the full chat between Scottish farmer Duncan Macalister and Dominic George above.

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