Scottish Farmers Sign Up for CAP Flexibility
Dublin meeting maps out reform requirements
NFU Scotland has joined other national farming organisations in calling for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to deliver a flexible support system that keeps food production at its core.
NFU Scotland and other members of COPA – the umbrella organisation for farming unions in the EU – have been meeting in Dublin in recent days (21 and 22 February). With Ireland currently holding the presidency of the EU, farming unions were keen to hear from the Irish Presidency how it expects the CAP Reform talks to progress.
An ambitious timetable for the reform process has been set out with the Presidency seeking to finalise a political agreement on outstanding issues during the remaining days of February and throughout March. That will then allow the Irish Presidency to enter into talks with the Commission and European Parliament with the intention of agreeing a deal by the end of its presidency in June.
With few opportunities remaining to secure changes within the Council of Ministers’ proposals for CAP, a significant number of EU farming Unions came together in Dublin to sign a declaration expressing their concern on future delivery of support to producers.
The group – which included NFUS and farming organisations from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Denmark - believes the proposed move away from the historical reference payment to a flat rate payment by 2020 risks undermining the viability of many farms. Together the group signed a declaration calling for a flexible payment system that supports production.
The declaration has been signed ahead of a meeting of Europe's Farm Ministers scheduled for Monday (25 February).
Speaking from Dublin, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:
“Scotland’s views on what our farmers want from a deal on CAP Reform are well developed and well defined. The welcome news is that we have seen much movement since the CAP reform proposals were first outlined and many of these changes are in line with our thinking.
“With a very tight timescale to achieve political agreement under the Irish Presidency, it is important every opportunity is taken to ensure that flexibility is built into the proposals so that Scotland can choose a CAP payment system that supports active farming and food production.
“The agreement signed today by ourselves and other farming organisations looks to build on the principle of convergence being proposed at a European Member State level where the aim is to bring support payments rates closer to the EU average. If the same principle were to be applied when an individual Member State or region moves from a historic payment to an area payment it would allow for support rates to individual businesses fall within a range rather than being flattened to a single rate, lowering the impact of redistribution.
“This convergence model – known informally as the Irish tunnel – provides another option to manage the transition to area based payments but also recognises previous levels of activity on a farm.
“It may give Scotland a tool that is more sensitive to the variation in systems and the intensity of production, which is a feature of Scotland’s farming industry. The mechanism may be the best way to protect many individual farm businesses from the unintended consequences that a new regional approach to payment may have for some farms.
“It is important that modelling work is done on all of the payment options so that the decision on which one to choose as being right for Scotland is done with the best available information.
“At this late stage in the reform debate, it is still unclear what tools will be available during the new CAP period. However, the initiative that has emerged in Dublin is an important step towards securing a greater degree of flexibility. A package of delivery options gives us the best chance to use the Scottish budget effectively and avoid levels of support redistribution that could potentially impact on the viability of some of our most active businesses.”
Notes to Editors
- A photograph of farming leaders in Dublin, including NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller, signing the declaration on more flexible payment models for CAP is available.
Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006
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