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Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 06:13 GMT
Finnie sets out rural vision
Foot-and-mouth restrictions
The clean-up operation is now complete
The foot-and-mouth outbreak highlighted serious weaknesses in the farming sector, according to Scottish rural development minister Ross Finnie.

But in a speech at the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Finnie said the process of tackling and recovering from the disease had given him cause for optimism.

The minister also told the conference of his priorities for the future of the agriculture industry in Scotland.

He said the foot-and-mouth outbreak had demonstrated the advantages of the different parts of the UK pulling together.

Rural Development Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie: Optimism
Mr Finnie said: "Devolution does not mean we can do everything we would like.

"Nor does it mean we can operate agriculture and rural development policies in a vacuum.

"We, in Scotland as part of the UK, do not expect preferential treatment and protection but we do expect a level playing field which allows our industry to compete fairly with the rest of Europe and the world."

Mr Finnie said the four UK agriculture ministers had been working closely together to achieve this.

The rural development minister told the conference that he had a vision of a prosperous farming industry which should be a Scottish success story and which should benefit all the people of Scotland.

He said Scottish agriculture should be:

  • focussed on producing what the customer wants

  • part of rural development, not separate

  • a leading player in the protection and enhancement of our environment

  • and, it should embrace change and new opportunities.
Mr Finnie added that there was a "very wide consensus on how farming needs to change in order to survive".

He said: "I believe that farming can have a bright future if we all work together, use our collective skills wisely and are prepared to change."

See also:

10 Oct 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth clean-up complete
28 Sep 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth restrictions eased
11 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scotland free of farm disease
14 Aug 01 | Scotland
Livestock sales resume in Scotland
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