8 March 2002

Strategy move forward

PROGRESS towards implementing Scottish agricultures forward strategy began to take shape this week.

The agriculture strategy implementation group, chaired by rural development minister Ross Finnie and with 15 members representing a wide range of interests, met for the first time on Mon, Mar 4.

The group will advise on implementing the forward strategy, published last year, by monitoring the progress on the strategy documents action points and by identifying ways of measuring their success.

Mr Finnie also wants it to consider the links between agriculture and the environment, how best to provide training and advice to farmers, and how to shorten the food chain.

An example of how advice can be provided to farmers was highlighted by the minister on Tuesday at a farmers conference in the Borders.

"Scottish Enterprise Borders is leading the country in providing advice to farms," said Mr Finnie. "It is doing this though the Small Business Gateway and, with the support of the Scottish Executive, through its farming business advisor service it is initiating a range of projects with the farming community, including training for farmers and guidance for those wishing to develop new business opportunities."

He pointed out that the Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture emphasised that farmers struggling to make a living had three choices: make more money from farming; generate more income in other ways; or leave farming altogether. &#42