Union introduces first new branch in eighty years

For the first time since the 1930s, NFU Scotland is to launch a new branch.

With NFU Scotland’s crofting membership having grown to more than 750 in recent times, the Union will introduce a new Western Isles branch to give the increased membership in that area greater support and recognition.

The new branch will be launched at the Isle of Harris Distillery on Wednesday 27 July. Current and potential members are invited to an informal reception at 6.00pm, with soup and sandwiches available.

The new branch will be looked after by Jake Sayles and Duncan Macintyre, both of whom will be at the launch. In addition, Chairman of the Union’s Crofting, Highlands and Islands Committee Sandy Murray and the Highland Regional Chairman Jim Whiteford will be on Harris for this exciting development.

For those who can’t make the launch, the Union will have a stand at North Uist Show, taking place at the Hosta Machair, North Uist on Thursday 28th July 2016 where people can hear the positive story about what NFU Scotland membership can offer.

Looking ahead to the launch, local NFUS secretary Jake Sayles said: “NFU Scotland is already doing sterling work on behalf of crofters, hill farmers and smallholders in Skye and Lochalsh. With an established membership base in the Western Isles, the time is right to create a new branch to give those members greater representation and to encourage others to come and hear what the Union can offer.

“Through our NFU Mutual offices in Portree and Stornoway, Duncan and I are already able to provide members with a high level of support and services, from crofting and hill farming policy to financial and insurance advice.

“We travel regularly throughout the area to meet our members, whenever and wherever we are needed, and we are delighted that, by launching the Western Isles branch, NFU Scotland’s network continues to grow.”

Sutherland crofter Sandy Murray, who chairs the Union’s Crofting, Highlands and Islands Working Group, will attend the Western Isles branch launch. Sandy has many years’ experience as a Crofting Commission assessor and a grazings clerk. Speaking ahead of the event, Sandy said: “These are exciting and challenging times for crofting and, with our crofting membership increasing, it is great that NFU Scotland’s first new branch in more than 80 years reflects that.

“NFU Scotland is absolutely committed to creating a vibrant, crofting sector that is fit for the 21st century. In the past year alone, we have continued to campaign for simpler and updated crofting legislation and were instrumental in getting the Crofting Stakeholders Forum set up to take forward crofting matters.

“Common grazings is a hot topic at the moment. We staged a very successful workshop on Skye and would look to repeat the exercise elsewhere if necessary.

“In other priorities, we also want to encourage new entrants into crofting, increase the availability of affordable housing and make sure that the range of support and financial incentives available to the crofting community are fit for purpose and their availability well communicated.

“Crofting remains at the core of so many communities across Scotland. NFU Scotland want to keep it that way and I look forward to hearing from our Western Isles branch members in the future.”

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