Despite fears of cuts to crucial less favoured area (LFA) support measures for hill and remote areas and to the rural development programme, the agricultural sector appears to have escaped the worst of the Scottish Government spending cuts.
As the dust settled yesterday on deputy first minister John Swinney’s mid-week announcement, NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker said that, while the cuts to the forestry and Leader programmes would hit some, the majority of farming’s key spending programmes had been protected.
He said that while farming was suffering major support cuts under the new common agricultural policy, the minister’s budget decisions had recognised the contribution that farming and food was making to the Scottish Government’s objectives of a stronger and more inclusive economy.
“The farming and food sectors reach across the whole of Scotland, supporting jobs and economic activity in rural and remote areas as well as many manufacturing jobs in areas like the Central Belt,” Walker said.
“Recognising the tough fiscal climate in which the public sector has to operate, it is welcome that the key elements of the Scottish Government budget that support agricultural activity have been maintained.”
Walker said that it was important that the industry continued to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that the powers and economic tools at their disposal were used to help agriculture through its present difficulties.
“This approach will help it to grow and continue to be the backbone of the rural economy as well as supporting the food and drink industry which remains the largest manufacturing sector in Scotland,” he added.