The meeting started with Janette Sutherland reporting back to the group on the benchmarking survey undertaken at the launch meeting. A discussion followed on the pertinent points from the survey which were going to be discussed further at the meeting.
Interestingly 90% of the common grazings surveyed at the Uist meeting said they had fixed equipment. With this in mind the first breakout session discussed the public and employers liability issues that face common grazings. An informative guide was provided by NFU Mutual which was the basis for discussion.
The discussion resulted in a number of potential issues being raised, the most common of which was walkers and others using the ground for recreation. The main worry was in regards to tourists with dogs accessing ground where there may be calving cows. To assist the group it was agreed that examples of good warning signage for common grazings would be circulated.
The group went on to look at the benchmarking survey results that looked at the financial aspects of common grazings. From the Uist group, all common grazings had a bank account but none had a borrowing facility.
52% of common grazings in the Uist group levied shareholders either annually or for specific projects. This was reflected in the benchmarking that only 40% of Common Grazings had applied for CAGS in the last 5 years.
There were four breakout sessions that covered 4 financial scenarios. These included:
- Levying for a work on Improvement
- Income from film locations
- Applying for an Agri-environment scheme
The potential funding through CAGS means that new pieces of equipment aimed at enhancing productivity which would ordinarily be too expensive to justify can be more realistic possibilities. The meeting ended with video clips of three items that could make handling livestock more efficient. These were a sheep conveyor belt and automatic shedder and a hydraulic crush for cattle.
The meeting gave everyone attending something new to consider particularly with many having not considered the issue of insurance on common grazings. Many of those attending also saw the massive potential in CAGS funding to support investment in the common grazing.
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