15 December 2000
Rural schemes running, insists MAFF

By FWi staff

THE Ministry of Agriculture has rejected claims that some schemes offered under the England Rural Development Programme are not fully operational.

Gerry Tull, a farmer from Winchester, said his experience led him to suspect that MAFF had launched the schemes before they were really ready.

He was told to wait until February by his local Regional Service Centre before applying for assistance under the vocational training scheme.

Mr Tull said: “A lot of people are dreaming up a diversification project, but they are not going to get any money for quite some time.”

But MAFF said that the vocational scheme was launched in October. So were new rural enterprise, processing and marketing, and energy crops initiatives.

Farmers could apply under any of the schemes in the programme and they would be processed as soon as possible, said a MAFF spokeswoman.

Vocational training organisation Lantra said it was proceeding well with skill checks for farmers who apply for the schemes.

Applicants needed to undergo a skill check to prove training is needed, but then they could bid for some training, said a Lantra spokeswoman.