Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Simon Kirby (Brighton, Kemptown, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps her Department has taken to (a) support the farming industry in the UK, (b) promote the interests of rural people and (c) promote the interests of rural communities.
Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative)
The Rural Payments Agency produced a Five-Year Plan in February setting out how it will build on recent improvements and work towards delivering both vastly improved service to its customers and much better value for money for taxpayers.
The independent Task Force on Farming Regulation published its report on
DEFRA's £3.7 billion Rural Development Programme for England (2007-2013) provides investment to improve competitiveness in the agriculture and forestry sector; safeguard and enhance the rural environment; foster competitive and sustainable rural businesses and thriving rural communities. Under the programme new grant schemes have been introduced which provide small grants to enable the development of farm, forestry, and horticulture businesses, and large grants to enable the transformational change in the economic performance of farm, forestry, tourism, and agri-food businesses. A new skills and knowledge framework is to be introduced in the autumn.
DEFRA's Rural Communities Policy Unit acts as a centre of rural expertise supporting and informing Government policy to achieve outcomes for rural people and communities. DEFRA is engaging with a wide range of organisations that support and represent rural people including:
The Rural Community Action Network (RCAN): supports community-led action in rural areas and works to increase the long-term sustainability of rural community life.
The Rural Coalition: DEFRA meets regularly with the Rural Coalition to facilitate strategic input into key policy areas impacting on rural people and communities.
The Rural and Farming Network: established to identify and feedback local issues and concerns to DEFRA Ministers.