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    Rural Development - NFUS Meets Cabinet Secretary
23/05/07

NFU Scotland has joined other rural stakeholders in meeting Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, and Michael Russell, Minister for Environment, to discuss Scotland’s Rural Development Programme, which must be submitted to Brussels shortly for approval.

NFUS President
Jim McLaren

Jim McLaren

NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“By bringing in the main players in rural Scotland so early after his appointment, Mr Lochhead has emphasised the importance of getting industry input and consensus for Scotland’s Rural Development Plan. That is extremely important, particularly on such a significant issue as rural development.

“Clearly, farmers across Scotland are anxious to hear about the content of the new Plan and the funding of it, particularly the extent to which voluntary modulation will be used. The announcement on all this, the first major decision for the Cabinet Secretary, will send an important signal to the industry on how this new administration plans to take agriculture and rural Scotland forward.

“Clearly, in our view, if Scotland is to achieve its rural development potential, profitable farms are going to be the key delivery vehicle. Therefore, we need a programme which supports farm business development, which itself safeguards ongoing environment work.”

NFUS Chief Executive Andy Robertson, who attended the meeting on behalf of NFUS, said:

“At today’s meeting, as throughout the election campaign, we stressed that the Executive must work closely with farmers and other stakeholders to identify the priorities under rural development. Once they are identified and agreed, and not before, the funding decisions can be taken.

“We have now been shown some provisional financial figures on the total cost of the programme, for the first time in these discussions. However, we need to have a clearer idea of the assumptions behind the figures before we can make any judgement on spending priorities and how this will all be funded. We were re-assured by the Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Environment that the figures presented have been put together by officials and no decisions have been taken on funding and the rate of voluntary modulation.”

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National Farmers' Union