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Scotland Reviews its Bull Scheme

19 March 2009

SCOTLAND, UK - A chair has been appointed to an independent group to examine the future of bull hire programmes in crofting areas.

Agricultural adviser and former member of the Crofters Commission, Sarah Allen will lead the group which is expected to report to Ministers by November 2009, anouunced the Scottish government.

Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, said:

"With her experience of partnership working and knowledge of rural development, Sarah is an ideal appointment for this review.

"The review will look at the objectives of a bull scheme and identify practical and affordable options for maintaining quality livestock in these areas.

"I look forward to working with Sarah to appoint the membership of the group and to find a sustainable way forward."

Sarah Allen is currently part of a rural development consultancy business and provides agricultural advice for Highland Council. She has a wide range of experience including strategic planning, the operation of grant schemes and in conducting meetings and hearings. Ms Allen also served on the Crofters Commission for over six years.

The post of Review Group Chair is part time and attracts remuneration of £203 per day (for an overall time commitment of up to 32.5 days).

Ms Allen has declared no political activity in the last five years.

The Committee of Inquiry on Crofting, an independent committee chaired by Professor Mark Shucksmith, recommended (May 12, 2008) that support offered for bull hire should change. The Scottish Government has proposed new arrangements designed to facilitate private bull hire and to support community ownership in remote areas where the costs of transport or overwintering might otherwise prove prohibitive for crofting communities.

The terms of reference for the review Group are as follows:

In the light of the requirements of the EU State Aids regime for agricultural production, and in particular its de minimis provisions, and the resource implications of operating a centralised bull stud, and bearing in mind the view of the Committee of Inquiry on Crofting that support for bull hire should only be made available in those areas where ownership of a bull is impractical and commercial opportunities for bull hire are lacking:

  • to investigate practical options to encourage crofters to work together to keep quality cattle of high health status in remote rural Scotland
  • identify those parts of the country where crofting communities would be unable without support to secure the fertilisation of cows at equitable cost
  • consider what type of public support would best help to overcome such disadvantage
  • define the outcomes which any such support should be designed to achieve
  • consider whether, in order to achieve the desired outcomes, support is best provided in cash (by grant to crofting groups) and/or in kind (for example, through the supply of bulls or semen)
  • recommend options to Scottish Ministers by November 2009 to achieve best value from the resources devoted to the interim Bull Hire Scheme

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