16 March 2001

Lib-Dems rural policies

THE Liberal Democrats have launched their rural manifesto despite the possibility that the General Election will be postponed because of foot-and-mouth.

The document, A Fair Deal for Rural England, promises immediate help in the form of compensation for consequential losses because of the disease. It also set out plans to establish an early retirement scheme to help tenant farmers, who have few assets, get out of the industry. This should also be tied to a new entrant scheme so that it overcomes the "locked in/ locked out" problem, it says.

Party leader Charles Kennedy pledged that the Lib Dems would put the countryside and its concerns at the heart of their agenda. Britain needed a strong rural economy centred on agriculture, he said.

The Lib-Dems also want a simplified farm support system to cut form filling. &#42