28 November 2000
Countryside expects White-Paper boost

By FWi staff

RURAL communities are expected to receive a boost from the governments Rural White Paper, which will be published on Tuesday (28 November).

The long-awaited document, which will provide a blueprint for the countryside, includes proposals to boost local economies.

Small abattoirs will receive up to 19 million to help offset the cost of hygiene-inspection charges, blamed for driving many meat plants out of business.

Strict planning laws, which farmers claim have prevented diversification projects, will be relaxed to allow building on agricultural land.

Other concessions for the countryside aim to provide more affordable housing for local people. An estimated 75m of new money will boost rural policing.

The promise of government money to save small- and medium-sized abattoirs has already been heralded as good news by the meat industry.

The Meat and Livestock Commission said the announcement would be welcomed by abattoirs and farmers.

“Small- and medium-sized abattoirs have a vital role to play, both as part of the meat industry and the communities they serve,” said MLC chairman Don Curry.

Over 200 organisations have campaigned to have the proposals implemented.

One of them, the Country Landowners Association, said it was a shame that Mr Brown had taken so long to reduce the charges.

However, it warned farmers not to expect too much from the white paper which would target general rural issues, rather than agriculture.