A National Strategy for Farm Business Advice and Skills
I am delighted to publish today the Scottish Executive's national strategy for farm business advice and skills.
I am grateful to the industry representatives and other stakeholders who have given freely of their time and resources to help develop this strategy and I rely on their continuing commitment to ensure its successful implementation.
The Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture set out a vision for a prosperous farming industry within the wider rural economy and the actions needed to achieve that vision. A great deal has been done since publication of the Forward Strategy some 20 months ago and publication of this national strategy for advice and skills represents another milestone in its implementation.
Farmers face many challenges and need to use all their skills and resources to develop financially and environmentally sustainable businesses if they are to survive and prosper. This is a task for farmers themselves - like anyone who runs a business, they must make their own commercial decisions within the legal and regulatory framework that applies to them. But we can help farmers to take a broader look at their businesses and identify ways of improving their performance. We can also help them to develop their business planning skills so that they can make the most of all their assets.
This strategy is about making available to farmers the right advice - high quality, integrated "whole farm" advice - and encouraging farmers to use that advice to improve their performance. Scotland has already established networks of advisers, from specialist agricultural and environmental advisers to bankers, accountants and surveyors, who provide most of the advice that farmers need. We do not want to interfere with these networks. Rather, we want to build on their strengths in order to improve the service available to farmers and stimulate the market so that more farmers make more effective use of the available advice.
In the end, all the stakeholders have the same aim - to help build a financially healthy, environmentally sustainable farming industry. The Executive shares that aim and will work, with stakeholders, towards implementing this strategy.
Ross Finnie, MSP
Minister for Environment and Rural Development