Crofting Is the Future: Small Farms after Agricultural Modernisation

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Mark SHUCKSMITH , Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
This paper discusses crofting reform as an instance of the emergence of locally-rooted alternatives to agricultural modernisation and neoliberalism. Crofting is a distinctive and highly regulated form of land tenure specific to the northern half of Scotland; it is also a cultural heritage of major international significance, under threat from marketisation.  In 2007-8 an independent review of crofting (which I chaired) proposed a major reformulation of government policy. Instead of agricultural modernisation, this proposed an approach based on concepts of neo-endogenous rural development and place-shaping, with local mobilisation encouraged by the generative power of the state and other actors, harmonising managerial technologies, addressing the challenges of multi-scalar governance and vertical integration, regulating land occupancy, and releasing new potentialities. Using the neo-endogenous approach, this sought to build the capacity of crofting communities to mobilise strategically and collaboratively, empowering communities at various levels. This approach was broadly adopted by the Scottish Government, with new legislation in 2010 leading to tighter regulation of land use and absenteeism, a map-based land register, and local elections for the regulatory body. Finally the paper considers what wider relevance this case might have, given that the Crofting Inquiry report was recently translated into Japanese.