Triple fillip for Scots
By Shelley Wright
THREE new schemes to help farmers and crofters in Scotlands Highlands and Islands have been announced by rural affairs minister Ross Finnie.
"I estimate that around £25m will be spent by the Scottish Executive and the EU on the schemes over the period 2000-2006," said Mr Finnie.
The schemes, part of Scotlands recently approved plans under the EUs Rural Development Regulation, are divided into agricultural business development, processing and marketing, and a package for crofting communities.
Welcoming the announcement of the new schemes, Scottish NFU vice president John Kinnaird said the Agricultural Business Development Scheme (ABDS) in particular, was a boost to the area.
"Our industry is constantly told to restructure, but this cannot be achieved without assistance."
ABDS will provide a range of grants, to a maximum of £40,000 and which must be match-funded by the producer, for capital investment in such things as farm buildings and waste systems. It will also provide grants for diversification projects, preparing business plans, marketing and training.
The budget for ABDS over the six-year period of the rural development plan is £17m.
Another £7m is earmarked for the Processing and Marketing Scheme, which aims to add value and encourage more processing of local produce in the area.
The third scheme, with a budget of £1m, is the Crofting Communities Development Scheme. It will help crofters prepare local development plans. *