I HAVE grown a little fed up of politicians spewing out dire warnings over Brexit with little in the way of corresponding action, and no, I’m not talking about indyref2. For all the political posturing and calls to halt English democracy, there’s been little or no preparation here in Scotland for what they said might actually happen. Perhaps the politicians never thought it would come to this, yet here we are facing the prospect of our food supply lines, namely the M1 and M6, becoming eerily quiet.

“It’s all Westminster’s fault – see what they’ve done” just won’t cut it. There has always been a demand in Scotland to do things differently to successive administrations at Westminster. There has long been a desire for land reform which is eminently achievable under devolution, yet for all the carrot dangling it continues to be put in the “after indy” pile. If anything, the Scottish Government seems to be forming a closer bond with big land owners rather than using taxation powers to discourage their environmentally rapacious and speculative pursuits.

Never mind Brexit, the United Nations have been warning for some time that the rapid expansion of small scale local farms will be necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change and feed the global population. Our home-based think tanks such as Common Weal and Nourish have been reiterating this warning to little, or no, avail. The neoliberal fixation with exports prioritises land use for crops like barley for the expansion of our whisky industry.

Well over half our “fresh” food such as salad and vegetables are imported. We could have spent the last four years redressing this imbalance rather than endlessly carping on about what a disaster Brexit would be. Literally hundreds of small-scale market farms are popping up all over Europe with farm-to-fork miles sometimes in single digits. Many lie at latitudes considerably further north than the Scottish bread basket. This doesn’t even require large swathes of land. There are examples of intensive market gardens supplying fresh organic produce to 100 families nine months of the year on less than an acre. Many of these businesses were started at a cost of less than £30,000. Such examples could easily be recreated in Scotland, even without radical land reform using public land which could be made accessible. The emergence of no-till principles means there isn’t necessarily a requirement for good soil quality and the practice reduces water usage and aids in carbon sequestration – a win-win for a government who claims it has prioritised climate action.

It really is heartbreaking to see simple and effective solutions to our food problems run up against the granite lump of political inertia. Just think about what £10 million could achieve. That’s the amount given in tax breaks to “sporting” estates by the Scottish Government. This could have been used to set up a network of small-scale farms across Scotland producing fresh, high-quality food accessible to everyone, no matter their means. Further development could see us extend our seasons using our renewable energy to grow food indoors, just like Iceland does.

No doubt, the SNP’s newly found counsel in the landed gentry will dismiss all of this as airy-fairy green stuff, yet there are macroeconomic consequences to the sudden loss of vital resources in the form of skyrocketing inflation. This might just be of interest.

It is too late to mitigate the short term effects of a No-Deal Brexit. Nonetheless, we need to start a major push towards food security right now. In doing so we will protect ourselves against future climate and pandemic shocks, bolster our currency, provide meaningful employment and reinstate vital skills and knowledge which are in danger of disappearing for good.

Scott Egner