asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they are taking to ensure that in less favoured areas of the country viable rural communities, sustainable farming and good forest management are maintained: and what contribution the Government are prepared to make over and above the European Community contributions to achieve such ends. [HL101]
Dedicated support for farmers in the Less Favoured Areas (LFAs) of the United Kingdom is provided through the Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances (HLCA) scheme. The scheme is designed to help sustain the economies and environment of these rural areas and is largely nationally funded, with the EU contributing about 25 per cent. of the total cost. An extra £60 million was provided for HLCAs as part of the Government's special aid package for the livestock sector announced last November, taking total expenditure this year to £170 million. Farmers in the LFAs also receive other subsidies worth over £500 million a year. The Government's plans to make the HLCA scheme more effective in meeting both social and environmental concerns will be taken forward in the context of the Agenda 2000 proposals for reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.The Government's approach to sustainable forestry is set out in the UK Forestry Standard which was published last year. The Forestry Commission offers advice and incentives under the Woodland Grant Scheme to encourage landowners to manage their woodlands in accordance with the Standard.