NFUS has expressed its disillusionment at the news that a key
animal health and welfare scheme, described as a pioneering when
it was introduced by the Scottish Executive in 2005, has been dropped
from Scotland’s forthcoming Rural Development Programme.
NFUS President Jim McLaren
The Programme is due to go in front of a Brussels committee for
approval this week.
The Scottish Government informed stakeholders last night (Thursday)
that it had failed to convince the European Commission to approve
some schemes previously available under its Land Management Contract
Menu Scheme. These include the Animal Health and Welfare
Programme, support for key farm assurance schemes and funding to
host farm visits and talks.
The news will not affect the 5000 farmers currently involved in
the Animal Health and Welfare Programme because they have already
agreed a five-year programme – an assurance NFUS has received
from the Scottish Government this morning. However, it will
be closed to new participants in 2008. Unlike the animal
health measure, the support for farm assurance membership is determined
on an annual basis and this too will be closed this year, so those
that received support in previous years will not do so in 2008. Some
farm assurance schemes will remain eligible for support but the
major schemes covering the red meat, cereals and dairy industries
are excluded in 2008.
NFUS President Jim McLaren said:
“I am hugely disappointed that the Scottish Government,
which was still hopeful at Christmas of getting approval, has been
unable to convince the European Commission of the merits of these
“The animal health and welfare measure was particularly
popular and was rightly hailed by the previous Scottish Executive
administration as a pioneering new measure. This development
will not go down well on the ground and I am both hugely frustrated
and bewildered at this turn of events.
“We have at least gained an assurance that the thousands
currently involved will be able to see through the five-year programme,
however that will be little consolation to farmers that were hoping
to apply this year. Members of the major quality assurance
scheme now also find the door closed to funding and those who were
doing a real service to the industry and public by hosting visits
and talks on their own farm have been excluded.
“I will be speaking to Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead as
soon as I can to stress the concern of industry at this and to hear
why the European Commission could not be convinced. This is
a real set back for the new menu scheme and all efforts must go into
reinstating these measures for 2009.”
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