INCREASED FUNDING for agri-environment schemes and organic farming has been announced by the Scottish Executive.

Allan Wilson, deputy rural development minister, revealed on Tuesday (July 6) that £38.6m has been allocated this year to the Rural Stewardship Scheme – Scotland‘s whole-farm agri-environment scheme.

That, he said, would provide funding for 1755 projects to support wildlife conservation and environmental protection on farms and crofts.

Last year £23.6m was allocated to 1078 projects. The stewardship scheme provides annual payments for up to 10 years.

The Organic Aid Scheme‘s funding of £3.7m, compared with last year‘s £2m budget, would offer support for 59 organic conversion plans and 78 maintenance plans, he added.

“This substantial funding will directly result in farmers and crofters managing over 635,000ha of land for the benefit of the environment and wildlife,” Mr Wilson said.