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EU Greening Counterproductive Warn Farmers

Article date: 
30 August 2012
News Article Number: 
91/12
Cow & Calf

New report broaches alternative options

A significant number of farms in Scotland’s Highlands would suffer a negative economic and environmental impact if the EU Commission’s ‘greening’ proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were implemented in their current form.

According to a study commissioned by NFU Scotland and Cairngorm National Park Authority (CNP), greening proposals could force some farmers in the area to cease agricultural production altogether.

The study, entitled: ‘CAP Greening Impact Survey’ looked at 35 farms in and near the national park.  It examined, in detail, the likely effects of the proposals relating to cropping, grassland and ecological focus areas. All the farmers questioned reported there would be a financial impact to their business, with 9 percent saying they would be forced to go out of business altogether.  Almost three-quarters of those surveyed anticipated that greening would have an adverse environmental impact and half felt it would have a negative effect on biodiversity.

The vast majority of the survey’s participants undertake some level of arable cropping, but the potential impact of greening would see a quarter of the farmers surveyed stop cropping altogether.

The first draft of the report was presented to NFUS, CNPA and Scottish Government officials at a farm in the Cairngorms earlier this week and will inform NFU Scotland’s lobbying activities on amending the CAP proposals.  Once finalised, the report will be made widely available to all stakeholders.

NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller said:

“From the outset, Scotland’s farmers have been concerned that the EU’s intentions to make Pillar I of the Common Agricultural Policy more environmentally friendly were too prescriptive and would, in fact, be detrimental to Scotland’s farmed environment and farm businesses.

“With this in mind, NFUS is devoting time and resources to demonstrating this in real-life situations so that we have clear evidence for our negotiations with the EU. The CAP Greening Impact Survey builds on the three case studies presented at our conference - CAP Greening options for northern Europe – held in Edinburgh earlier this year.

“This study, while over a relatively small geographical area, encompassed a representative sample of Scottish LFA farms. It proves how the three-crop rule would limit farming options, lead to compliance problems and fail to deliver the environmental gain it is designed to provide.

“Given that the study has been completed in an area that is already rich in environmental attributes brought about by current farming practices, it highlights clearly the counterproductive nature of the greening proposals on many Scottish farms.

“Greening measures are unpopular across the whole of the EU and, as we approach negotiations on how they should be amended, this study also provides a useful menu of alternative options that may be of interest to fellow member states.

“The poll of Highland farmers helped to establish an extensive list of measures around biodiversity, climate change, efficiency and animal health, which farmers felt they could undertake to deliver on agri-environmental targets.  The extent of the menu suggested by the group indicates that a wide range of options is required so those applicants can react to an individual farm’s unique physical, environmental and economical characteristics.

“Our meeting with CNP and the Scottish Government deepened everyone’s understanding of the operational constraints which must determine viable greening options on Scotland’s farms.  The national park clearly demonstrates the extremes in terrain and farming activity which require a range of approaches to bring about environmental gain in a way that is economically viable for the farmer.

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

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