Scots to benefit from £3m of EU and UK cash aid
Strong prices for milk and livestock and the prospects of a good harvest put farmers in buoyant mood at the Royal Highland Show. Allan and Shelley Wright report
A TOTAL of 21 food and farming businesses in Scotland are getting £3m in EU and government grants, said Scottish farm minister, Sir Hector Monro.
The biggest award – £580,000 – goes towards building a new auction mart at Kirkwall which will serve nearly 1000 farmers throughout the Orkney Islands.
Unveiling the second tranche of this years processing and marketing grants during a visit to the show, Sir Hector said: "Altogether we have been able to help 53 businesses in the past six months with aid worth almost £9m and associated investment of £27.5m."
He claimed that it had been a good year for Scottish farming, with incomes up by 25% to their highest level for 17 years. Livestock subsidies were expected to top £242m, up 11%, while total arable payments would reach £157m.
And the Objective 1 agricultural programme for the Highlands and Islands would pump £23m of new money into the area over five years.
The minister predicted no further "dramatic changes" in the CAP, adding: "While it is expensive, by and large we have a system now that is doing away with Europes food mountains and providing farmers with a reasonable income.
"Producers can only maintain their high husbandry standards if they are making profits. So I am not in the least apologetic about them receiving grants, which are fully justified in a modern world," he said.
"I believe there is a really good future for farming. The industry is in good heart and the government wants that to continue."