7 March 1997

Subsidies lifeline

DIRECT social subsidies, based on historical support levels, could provide a lifeline for Scottish farmers as world trade agreements push the industry towards a free market.

The suggestion comes in an 80-page discussion document presented yesterday (Thur) at the Scottish NFUs annual meeting.

Prepared by Tom Brady, the unions chief executive, the policy options on the future of Scottish agriculture will now go to the full SNFU membership for discussion.

"The greatest threat to Scottish agriculture is the idea that support payments in the EU should be targeted at farm size.

"The extent of modulation being considered at one time would have halved Scottish farm income," said Mr Brady. &#42