Detailed proposals for the new Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) have been set out by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead this week.
The proposals for the seven-year programme – which is worth more than £1.3 billion between 2015 and 2020 – includes plans to protect the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS), increase funding for agri-environment schemes and maintain funding for forestry. It will also include funding for new entrant start up support and for an advisory service.
It is proposed that some aspects of the current SRDP have their funding removed, such as capital grants for restructuring agricultural businesses and access and landscape options.
Scottish Land & Estates will be liaising with members and engaging with Scottish Government on this important issue.
Mr Lochhead said:
“A vibrant rural Scotland is one of our greatest assets and today I set out my vision for the new SRDP - an ambitious programme that will delivery our key priorities of sustainable economic growth, environmental sustainability and vibrant rural communities…
“Thriving agricultural businesses are at the heart of my vision and with that in mind I am committed to continuing vital funding at current levels for our Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS). This provides essential support for 85% of Scotland’s agricultural land and provides crucial support for farming and crofting businesses in our most fragile and remote areas. We will however continue to review this scheme in line with European regulations.
“I am also committed to addressing other areas of vital importance to our farmers, crofters and the Scottish economy, including supporting Scotland’s livestock sector, new entrants, crofters and small farms; and the need to modernise and improve working practices.
“Of course the SRDP does more than support farming. We must continue developing and sustaining vibrant rural communities which is why funding for LEADER will also be maintained.
“We must also continue to protect and improve our natural environment, and Scotland has ambitious targets for adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change, along with biodiversity targets. I am minded to increase funding for the new environmental schemes which will be more effectively targeted to ensure we deliver the right actions, in the right place at the right time. This will be complemented by a new fund to facilitate co-operative action at a landscape or ecosystem scale.
“I have already taken on board responses to our first rural development programme consultation that was held earlier this year, and the new SRDP will be clearer, more effective and less bureaucratic to ensure it will better serve the needs of Scotland. I now look forward to hearing views.”
The consultation can be found here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/12/7550