28 July 2006

Stevenson Supports Shifting Executive Position On Support For Young Farmers

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed what he sees as a shifting position from the Scottish Executive on support for new entrants into the agriculture sector.

In a letter to Mr Stevenson in March 2006, Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie signalled that he was “not minded to introduce a support scheme for new entrants to the industry at this time”. Now however, in response to further lobbying from Mr Stevenson on the issue, Mr Finnie has responded that he is “considering whether a bespoke scheme for young entrants would be suitable” in light of responses received to the consultation on the Rural Development Programme.

Speaking at Turriff Show today [Sunday], Mr Stevenson commented:

      “This is a very welcome change of emphasis from the Scottish Government. Scotland’s agriculture Minister has moved from a position just four months ago of opposition to giving support to new entrants into farming to now being willing to consider just such a scheme.

      “We all agree that the age profile of those involved in farming is too high and that action is needed to support our young farmers. We know that a similar scheme introduced last year in Northern Ireland has been warmly welcomed there and is making a significant contribution to the agriculture industry there.

      “I strongly suspect that the Minister has been swayed by the weight of argument put forward for lending support to new entrants in the recent consultation on the Rural Development Programme and I very much welcome Mr Finnie’s move to open-mindedness on this issue.

      “Let us be clear that such a scheme in itself will not transform Scotland’s farming industry overnight, but it is one of the very necessary first steps needed to build a sustainable agriculture sector for the future.” Categories [Environment and Rural Development]

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