Mr Lochhead has confirmed that Scotland's Rural Priorities funding scheme will be open for business again in 2012. There is to be a further round of Axis 1 (restructuring, development and innovation) and Axis 3 (farm diversification) Rural Priorities funding next year. A further round of Axis 2 (agri-environment) has previously been confirmed.
However, he said it was vital the Axis 1 funding was spent carefully as there was less money in the pot because spending was brought forward in 2009 and 2010 in response to the credit crunch.
"The Rural Development Programme has provided badly-needed funding for Scotland's rural areas since it began in 2007, helping to sustain and create hundreds of jobs.
"To achieve this, we will concentrate the round on food processing, new entrants, renewable energy and climate change, including energy efficiency. There will also be a lower cap on awards to make sure as many businesses as possible can benefit.
"But I'd like to reassure people that we're not moving the goalposts for those who've already applied - so projects already submitted to us will be processed on the basis of the rules when they applied."
For more information visit http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/11/16125534