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13 September 2004

MSP Welcomes Finnie's Constructive Response on Field Margins

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a response from Agriculture Minister Ross Finnie that he has taken on board the concerns of local farmers about Cross Compliance regulations on field margins.

Mr Stevenson met with local farmers recently who expressed concern at reports that regulations stipulating that fallow margins must be left around arable fields may be brought in.

Local farmers with small acreages argued that any requirement for two metre margins around crops would disproportionately affect small farmers and those with small field enclosures.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“There was genuine concern among local farmers that any such measure would disadvantage them. In particular, arable farmers with small field sizes would have seen a bigger percentage of their land having to lie fallow than large-scale farmers with no guarantee this would have counted towards set-aside.

“Such a measure would inevitably have led to larger field sizes and the potential for boundary hedgerows to be uprooted – quite the opposite of what the Government wishes to encourage.

“I am pleased that Ross Finnie has recognised the folly of this idea and its rejection will allow farmers to continue in their role as guardians of the countryside.”

In his letter to Mr Stevenson, Ross Finnie states,

“On the issue of field margins in this context, your comments have been taken on board. I intend to make an announcement on Cross Compliance (Good Agricultural & Environmental Condition) in due course”.

Stewart Stevenson
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