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Little in Budget to push biofuels.

North farmers were hoping the budget would help them to prepare for the change of emphasis in the industry from food production to environmental work.

In the past, farmers have complained about an abundance of rules and red tape and they applauded Gordon Brown's commitment to lessen the burden of regulation on business and streamline agricultural inspection bodies.

A spokesperson for the North-East branch of the NFU said: "The announcement that there will be five inspection bodies covering food safety, the countryside, agriculture, animal health and environmental protection in place of the current 22 should be positive as long as it does lead to reduced regulation and red tape."

There had also been expectation that new measures would be introduced to boost the UK's biofuel industry ( which would see farmers growing crops that could be used as fuel.

But while Gordon Brown offered his support to the industry, it was not matched by Government investment, with the Chancellor simply extending the 20p per litre duty rate cut currently in place.

Alnwick farmer Ian Brown said: "There was nothing really new in this budget to encourage the growth and use of biofuels. A lot of the people involved will feel that yet again this is a missed opportunity."

The decision to delay increases in fuel duty until September 2005 because of volatile world oil prices was welcomed by farmers. But they warned the 23pc increase in the taxation on red diesel will add significant costs to the agriculture sector.

The NFU pointed out ahead of the Budget that rises in the duty on red diesel ( used in machinery ( would do little to deter fuel fraud and unjustly penalise legitimate users.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2005
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