15 June 2001

Becketts vision

is for revitalised

rural economy

ing issues needed urgent attention, he added. Mr Gill said: "There is much to be done – and fast. We will do our utmost to ensure that the new secretary of state understands the overwhelming pressure on the industry at this time."

NFU Scotland president, Jim Walker, described the new department as a step forward. Taxpayers would not go on supporting farmers in isolation to other sectors of the rural economy, he said. "It allows us to put forward arguments in a far broader way than just saying farmers need money because we are having a tough time."

Bob Parry, president of the Farmers Union of Wales, said it was important that farming remained at the core of the new department. "The importance of the farming sector to the entire rural economy must be fully recognised by the new minister and must not be pushed into the sidelines."

Ewen Cameron, rural advocate and chairman of the Countryside Agency, said a new independent commission to listen to the views from all sides and advise on long term policy would be crucial. "We must achieve sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food industries operating within a thriving rural economy and delivering environmental and social goals."

lSee p12 for more on DEFRA. &#42

By FWreporters

MARGARET Beckett is set to embark on a major revitalisation of the rural economy involving a new vision for British farming and the countryside.

The first Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was appointed by Tony Blair in a radical Cabinet reshuffle after Labours landslide General Election victory last week. She spent the next six days getting to grips with her brief before meeting journalists yesterday (June 14).

Mrs Beckett will oversee the integration of MAFF into a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The new department will have responsibility for agriculture and the food industry. It also takes on environment policy, rural development, wildlife and sustainable development, previously the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

Mrs Beckett said: "This new department will play a vital role in taking forward the governments agenda for its second term. It will adopt a truly joined-up approach to all aspects of our environment to ensure a high quality of life, vibrant and sustainable rural communities and a food chain that works together to meet the changing demands of consumers."

NFU president, Ben Gill, pledged to work to work "positively and hard" with the new department. But a packed agenda of farming issues needed urgent attention, he added. Mr Gill said: "There is much to be done – and fast. We will do our utmost to ensure that the new secretary of state understands the overwhelming pressure on the industry at this time."

NFU Scotland president, Jim Walker, described the new department as a step forward. Taxpayers would not go on supporting farmers in isolation to other sectors of the rural economy, he said. "It allows us to put forward arguments in a far broader way than just saying farmers need money because we are having a tough time."

Bob Parry, president of the Farmers Union of Wales, said it was important that farming remained at the core of the new department. "The importance of the farming sector to the entire rural economy must be fully recognised by the new minister and must not be pushed into the sidelines."

Ewen Cameron, rural advocate and chairman of the Countryside Agency, said a new independent commission to listen to the views from all sides and advise on long term policy would be crucial. "We must achieve sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food industries operating within a thriving rural economy and delivering environmental and social goals."

lSee p12 for more on DEFRA. &#42