5 July 2002

Curry insists on funding answer

DONALD Curry has insisted that the government must not postpone a decision on whether to come up with the funding to implement the policy commission report on the future of farming in full.

Responding to rumours that the Treasury may insist on pilot schemes before committing £500m to pay for the package, commission chairman Sir Donald said a decision must at least be taken to proceed.

The Treasury is finalising how much money each government department will have to spend over the next three years as part of the 2002 Spending Review.

Sir Donald agreed pilot schemes were needed to see what benefits, for example, the "broad and shallow" agri-environment scheme would offer.

But a decision should be made now that the package of measures was the right way forward for the future of the industry.

"It is appropriate to run some pilot schemes. But we must do it with the full intention of rolling out the programme and we need resources to do that." &#42

Sir Donald said he had still not managed to schedule a meeting with the Prime Minister to press the case for full funding.

But he had been told by Downing Street that the "Prime Minister did not need convincing and is very supportive".