Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has written to the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing MSP to seek assurances that new entrants into the agriculture are not being abandoned. This follows an announcement by the Scottish Government that the New Entrants Capital Grant Scheme, which is a key plank of the Scottish Rural Development Programme, is to be closed.
Over £8 million has been provided through the Capital Grants Scheme in the past four years to help over 600 applicants to invest in agricultural buildings, drainage projects, and fencing and livestock equipment.
Responding to the announcement, Mr McArthur said:
“While the support available for new entrants into farming has not been without its problems over the years, abandoning this scheme hardly seems the best way of addressing those problems. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the capital grants previously available have made a real and positive impact.
“Everyone agrees that encouraging new blood into farming is vitally important, including here in Orkney. At a time of real uncertainty for the sector, there is a need for government to help provide what stability it can.
“It is all the more surprising therefore that the Minister has chosen to take this decision now. I have written to Mr Ewing, who is due to visit Orkney next month, asking for a reassurance that the government does not intend to walk away from supporting new entrants and ensuring agriculture in Scotland has a bright future.”