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(This follows Lawrence's previous revelations about the strange application of the RDA and the Business link in Devon)

I found out today that Higher Hacknell Farm [organic beef box scheme, organic food awards prize winners and winners of some sustainable agriculture award associated with Prince Charles] has received exactly the same treatment.

Jo Budden asked Business Link to confirm their refusal by letter - so that she could take the matter up with MP etc. They refused! All this just came up in passing while I was speaking to her about other things.

The main points that occur to me are

1. These farm food and farm related businesses are those hardest hit by the way FMD has been handled. And they are the type of farm diversifications that the Government purports to support.

2. The Government - RDAs or what/whoever is responsible should have forseen the problem and should have been aware that their aid package wouldn't help these businesses - and should have found a different formula that did do the job.

3. The RDA and Business Link should be capable of finding an alternative way of giving aid to these businesses - either one of the previously agreed schemes, aided 100% instead of 50% - or they should be capable of interpreting the rules to achieve the purpose. For example - butchers services or cheesemakers services being aided instead of meat or dairy production. I am sure that where there's a will there's a way!

4. The actions of Business Link have amounted to gross negligence - in incurring all the costs of processing the applications [I believe the consultants are paid£400 per day and each app. clocks up £1,000!] before rejecting the applications on a matter of basic principle. It looks to be an unusually blatant example of the way all the funds are chanelled to the men in suits rather than those for whom the aid is intended.

I didn't mean to get carried away and write all this. I should be writng a submission to the Devon Inquiry.

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