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CROSS-GOVERNMENT SUPPORT VITAL TO SUCCESSFUL FARMING REFORM

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Action across government, most particularly in the treasury and department of ...
Action across government, most particularly in the treasury and department of

environment, food and rural affairs, is needed now to create a prosperous

future for farming and the rural economy, according to the Countryside Agency.

Speaking in response to today's publication of the Curry report, Ewen Cameron, the government's rural advocate and Countryside Agency chairman, said: 'Don Curry's team have identified a clear vision and the way forward; now we need action by the government. Many of the reforms proposed confirm what we and other organisations have been calling for for several years.

'Now is the time to turn words into actions, but to do this requires immediate

commitment from Margaret Beckett and the treasury. Achieving 10 per cent

modulation by 2004, which the treasury must match, is already possible. But we

need Mrs Beckett to engage with our European partners to broaden the things

this 'modulated', money can be spent on, to benefit the wider rural community

here in England and across the European Union.

'There's lots of potential here for farmers to make a profit out of what the

public want - a quality countryside and quality food. The benefits will flow

out to rural communities too. New funds released by modulation can make the

countryside a better place for visiting, or provide other public benefits such

as flood plain management or energy crops. Through our nine land management

initiatives, the Countryside Agency is already testing ways in which

agri-environment and rural development schemes could work. The lessons learned

from these pilots are demonstrating how this new approach can be applied.

Ewen Cameron continued: 'At his farming summit almost two years ago, the prime

minister charged the Countryside Agency to help consumers make the link between

the food they buy and the countryside they love, and to support farmers'

efforts to market their produce directly to customers. Our 'Eat the View'

initiative does just that. We feel Don Curry's enthusiasm for a more coherent

approach to establishing new markets for and publicising local produce is a

welcome step forward.

'Through Eat the View we have been working with the regional development

agencies, Food from Britain and other key regional players, including the

regional food groups. Now is the time for far greater regional co-operation.

'This report provides the impetus for fundamental changes in farming and should

set both our farmers and rural communities well on the road to recovery. The

future of the English countryside depends on swift action.'

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