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Rural Economy

Volume 116: debated on Monday 11 May 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures the Government have taken since 1979 to diversify the rural economy.

[pursuant to his reply, 8 May 1987]: We have been active in a number of ways in encouraging farmers to diversify into ancillary farm-based businesses. Since 1985 grants have been available in the less-favoured areas for the first time under the agriculture improvement scheme for a range of farm tourism and craft projects. In 1986 we took powers in section 22 of the Agriculture Act to widen the available scope and geographical coverage of these grants and as I have already announced a new grant scheme will be introduced later this year. The socioeconomic advisory service has continued to offer advice to farmers on diversification and general advice of this kind remains free of charge.In addition, a number of other Government Departments and agencies offer a wide variety of advice and assistance on rural diversification. The details are set out in the handbook "Action for Rural Enterprise" published by the Development Commission for Rural England.