New measures to help farmers and rural communities

UK - A series of new measures which will help farmers and people in rural communities was announced today.
calendar icon 27 February 2006
clock icon 4 minute read

Secretary of State Margaret Beckett spoke at the National Farmers' Union conference and made a number of announcements which will help farmers and rural communities work with government to achieve a thriving and profitable farming industry.

The new measures are:

  • consultations on the priorities for the next Rural Development Programme and specific measures for hill farming.
  • a consultation on a grant scheme for farmers in priority catchments which will support them in reducing the impact of nitrates, pesticides and other pollutants on rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters
  • a consultation on how almost 31/2 billion of sugar reform should be incorporated within the Single Payment Scheme
  • establishment of a delivery group to take forward the future implementation of the Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy
Following these was the confirmation that the first of the 31.6 billion of Single Payment Scheme (SPS) payments for English farmers had gone into bank accounts the previous week.

Mrs Beckett also announced a new commitment by Tesco to boost fresh British food through promotion of regional and local products. She invited the NFU to work with Defra and Tesco to work on new ways to bring value to British food so that it achieves a price premium.

The new Rural Development Programme will run from 2007 to 2013. The consultation proposes that payments will be made under three themes:
  1. Enhancing the environment and countryside
  2. Making agriculture and forestry more competitive and sustainable
  3. Enhancing opportunity in rural areas
Proposals for future support for upland farmers will also form part of the next Rural Development Programme.

The catchment sensitive farming consultation asks for views on a 35 million scheme which would operate for a limited time during 2007 – 2008, including proposed grant rates and maximum levels of aid. The scheme aims to improve agricultural practice in forty priority areas across the country and reduce the impact of nitrates, pesticides and other pollutants on rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters.

Mrs Beckett said:

“The Government wants British farming to succeed. We want a world class industry that is valued for its contribution to the economy and the environment.

“The next Rural Development Programme for England will begin next year and I want to hear people's views on what the focus for the programme should be and how we can ensure that we deliver a range of benefits to rural communities and the environment.“

Further information

Defra has produced a series of factsheets covering the announcements.
See: See also: Source: Defra - 27th February 2006
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