Farminguk
27 February 2017 | Online since 2003


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10 February 2017 14:30:58 |Education,Finance,News,Rural Life

Young farmers should receive suspended pot of funding, union says


Overcoming barriers to entry and attracting talented people to agriculture is a key priority for the industry

Overcoming barriers to entry and attracting talented people to agriculture is a key priority for the industry

A suspended pot of Rural Development funding has been told it should be directed towards Scotland’s new generation of farmers and crofters.
The Environmental Co-operation Action Fund (ECAF), which forms part of Scotland’s Rural Development Programme (SRDP), has been suspended to allow for redesign to meet EU audit requirements with a view to relaunching in the future.
Ministers are currently considering reallocation the funds to initiatives.
NFU Scotland has used a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Fergus Ewing urging him to direct the funds towards the new entrants’ components of the SRDP 2014-2020 – namely, the Young Farmers and New Entrants Start Up Grants Schemes and the New Entrants Capital Grant Scheme.
Around £7 million of the £10 million allocated to Young Farmers and New Entrants schemes has already be taken up, with 140 successful applicants.
However, NFU Scotland is concerned that the budget allocation is being quickly used up and the number of unsuccessful applications is already high.
The Union says topping up funding levels from ECAF would increase the effectiveness of popular schemes that are already stretched.
Attracting new talent
This request from NFUS follows supportive comments made by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at NFU Scotland’s Conference in Glasgow this week, where she recognised the importance of attracting new entrants into farming to the long-term health of the sector.
In her address to AGM delegates, the First Minister indicated that the Scottish Government was looking at other ways to create further opportunities for new farmers and encouraging young people to take up farming.
In his letter to the Cabinet Secretary, newly-elected President Andrew McCornick said: “With some £10 million originally allocated to ECAF, we now have an opportunity for this funding to drive our shared objective of supporting new and young farmers.
“We are in complete agreement with Scottish Government on this issue. Encouraging a new generation to the industry is vital if Scotland is to maintain vibrant farming and crofting sectors.
“Overcoming barriers to entry and attracting talented people to agriculture is a key priority for both the Scottish Government and NFU Scotland.”
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