20 September 2005
The Economic Development and Environment and Public Services Committees today lodged their major new Rural Economy Strategy, designed to secure a prosperous future for agriculture and the rural environment.
The Strategy follows the States Strategic Plan and the Economic Growth Plan and will deliver increased efficiency and greater diversification within the countryside whilst at the same time protecting and enhancing all those features that define our unique landscape and environment.
- Gives a clear picture to businesses in the rural economy of States support until 2010, allowing them to plan with confidence.
- Replaces the present production led subsidy system with a Single Area Payment, payable per vergee which will promote market responsiveness and lead to increased self reliance.
- Makes the receipt of these direct aid payments conditional upon achieving basic levels of environmental performance.
- Enables the high specification glasshouse sector (principally tomatoes) and the Dairy sector to undergo a transition into more efficient operations that are less dependent on States intervention by -
- Rolling forward the planned subsidy payments for the high specification glasshouse sector for the period 2006 to 2008 in to a single payment made in 2006, thereafter reducing to the basic Single Area payment.
- Providing transitional support funding to the dairy sector (the Quality Milk Payment).
- Working with the dairy industry to find a way of improving the performance of the Island’s milking herd by up to 20% through very strictly controlled exceptions to the general ban on the importation of cattle semen - within the context of a closed herd.
- Creates an incentive for new entrants to the industry by establishing a new category of agricultural land occupant, the Smallholder.
- Introduces a Rural Initiative Scheme to stimulate rural economic growth by supporting innovation and enterprise – such as the creation of a Genuine Jersey Meat industry.
- Recommends a review of planning policies connected to the countryside so as to assist economic activity whilst at the same time protecting and enhancing the rural environment.
- Enhances the environment and increases public access to the countryside through the new Countryside Renewal Scheme.
Deputy Gerald Voisin said:
"The agricultural industry has undergone a period of turmoil and difficulty and has had to face fundamental changes to the way that it operates.This strategy looks firmly toward a strong and secure future, with an industry responsive to market opportunities and where public money is made to work harder to achieve more with less.
"The consultation process revealed widespread support for the strategy. It appears that we have found a formula that is right for the agricultural industry, right for the stakeholders in the broader rural economy and right for the people of Jersey. I have no hesitation in putting the Strategy forward for formal adoption by the States."
Senator Philip Ozouf said:
"Jersey’s countryside character has been shaped by agricultural activity both past and present. Generations of farmers have created the patchwork of fields, hedges, walls and copses which characterise Jersey today. The most cost effective way of managing the rural landscape in future is by ensuring the active use of agricultural land by viable and sustainable businesses.
"There are important issues concerning planning to consider to ensure that we are able to encourage economic activity where appropriate and also to be able to tighten up on the control of activities that might be damaging to our heritage.
"I am confident that this major new approach is the right course for Jersey."
The Rural Economy Strategy can be found here
Notes to editors
This Strategy has been produced jointly by EDC and E&PSC as the issues it addresses are cross-cutting and need joined up solutions. It builds on many of the policy concepts that were agreed in the 2002 Agriculture debate and goes on to address the challenge of developing the rural economy in a way that both recognises external trends and that is realistic about future Government support.
The Strategy has been improved by taking into account the results of an extensive consultation exercise that has involved presentations to and discussions with States’ Members, States’ Committees, organisations and individuals.In addition, over 300 copies of the consultation document were distributed to interested parties – yielding further written responses which were equally supportive.
Public expenditure on agriculture (including the £600,000 spent on the Countryside Renewal Scheme) will, over the period 2005 to 2010 reduce from £4.38 million to £3.40 million.An exception to this trend will occur in 2006 when a one off payment of expenditure to the high specification glasshouse sector will be made increasing total expenditure in that year to £4.75 million.
The strategy attacks complexity and bureaucracy by reducing the existing system of over 15 streams of funding (and numerous further sub-streams) to just six. The detailed budget forecast is shown on page 34 of the strategy.