Rural economy policy should be mainstreamed within the national economic agenda, claims the National Council of Rural Advisers.
The council is an independent body tasked with giving advice and recommendations on rural policy to the Scottish Government.
In its final report – A new blueprint for Scotland’s rural economy – published today, the council calls for a radical change in attitutdes towards rural policy and for the rural sector to be included in all policy and decision-making processes.
In the report, council chairmen Alison Milne and Lorne Crerar say: “When this is achieved, ultimately, there should be no need for a separate rural economic strategy – it will simply be part of ‘the way things are done’.”
To aid the change, the council has called for the development of an interim Rural Economic Framework to develop and implement a new approach and delivery model for rural policy. It also calls for the creation of a Rural Economy Action Group “which has the clout to get things done and set the tone for change”.
The chairmen conclude: “It is time for the rural community to own its future and ensure its voice is heard, and our ambitions and potential are delivered.
“This is the first step in a journey towards ensuring Scotland is recognised as a world leader in rural economic development and inclusive growth – together we can, together we will.”
Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said he welcomed and supportted calls for the rural economy to be mainstreamed within all policy and decision-making processes.
He said: “I believe rural Scotland is well placed to deliver even more economic, social and environmental impacts that benefit the whole of Scotland.
“Without a cohesive vision and strategic support that recognises and grows the rural economy’s substantial contribution, these opportunities will be missed.”