Clive Beddall
Farming and Food Commission chairman Sir Don Curry will next week make a personal appeal to the Treasury to give financial backing to his radical proposals to transform Britain's rural economy and the agri-food scene.
Amid widespread speculation that Chancellor Gordon Brown will not be sympathetic to the rural sector when he unveils his plans in the government's spending review next month, Sir Don is meeting Paul Boateng, chief secretary to the Treasury, to put his Commission's case.
And The Grocer understands Sir Don is also hoping for a further meeting with Tony Blair to put the arguments for government funding.
In recent weeks there has been increasing speculation along the food chain that Gordon Brown would not stump up the £500m needed to implement the Curry report.
And Sir Don has also hit back at critics who have attacked the prospect of government cash being allocated to "featherbed the farming community."
Sir Don told The Grocer on Wednesday: "This is not a case of simply putting cash into farmers' pockets. It is about our entire rural economy. I will stress to Paul Boateng that food and farming should be given a fair crack of the whip."
But Sir Don emphasised that he believed that any scheme to allocate money to implement the report "must have a commercial focus."
He went on: "We need a new vision to finance the proposals and this, at the same time will mean a change of direction with the whole industry focusing more on the marketplace and environmental issues."
One suggestion is that an implementation group should be set up to oversee the recommendations' business plan and formal targets.
Sir Don emphasised that if the report's recommendations were to be implemented effectively, there needed to be a strong partnership between industry and government.
Meanwhile DEFRA ministers have consistently refused to be drawn on whether the Treasury will come up with the cash.
However, it is believed that secretary of state Margaret Beckett has recently met Gordon Brown to stress the importance of the proposals made by the Curry Policy Commission.

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