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Council of Ministers Move CAP Discussions in The Right Direction

 - Improvements needed on greening and coupling say Scottish farmers -

NFUS has welcomed the agreement reached by EU Agricultural Ministers as a positive step in reaching an agreement on changes to the CAP, but remains concerned about some aspects of the reform.  This agreement provides the basis for the Irish Presidency to negotiate with the EU Parliament and EU Commission and means that a final deal by the end of June is now more likely.

Positive changes to the original proposals have been made to the coupled payment ceiling, greening requirements and how new entrants are to be dealt with from day one of the new scheme.

NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller, has been in Brussels for the talks, briefing Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead throughout.  The Union will also meet UK Defra Minister, Owen Paterson next week to discuss how Scotland’s particular priorities can be met.

Speaking on his return from Brussels, NFUS President, Nigel Miller said:

“Some positive results are emerging from the smoke of the past two days’ intense and late-night negotiations. These include a higher coupled payment ceiling, some concessions on the greening measures and the process for dealing with new entrants as we change to the new payment system.

“The coupling option is crucial to Scotland in order to ward off the destabilising effects of the move from the current historic-based single farm payment to the area-based payment and to ensure that there is no shifting of money between sectors.   The ceiling of 7% agreed by EU Agricultural Ministers is an improvement on the Commission’s original proposals.   However, it is still likely to remain important that Scotland be able to access the UK, rather than only Scotland’s, budget ceiling if we are to make the best use of the coupling option. This is something we shall press hard with Owen Paterson when we meet him next week.

“Some significant flexibility has been won on the Commission’s original greening proposals that mean many of our original concerns may now have been resolved as long as these wins remain in the final agreement as it is hammered out between the Irish Presidency, the EU Parliament and EU Commission.   The concerns we had for Scottish livestock farms have in most cases been resolved but there are still serious worries about the extent to which most Scottish arable farmers will be hampered. The reduction of the ecological focus area to 5% is welcome, as is the agreement to permit equivalent greening measures as an alternative option to the three greening measures, but the impact of the crop diversification rules remain significant for many cereal farms. NFUS has already drawn up and circulated a proposal for Scottish cereals growers to adopt practices, such as precision farming, that would produce less carbon; this could actually help cereal farmers while satisfying the EU Commission’s equivalence requirements.

“These proposals taken, together with the agreement reached in the EU Parliament, move us a step closer to a final text and take us to a far better place than was the case with the original Commission proposals. There is still much to be done before a final agreement is reached and NFU Scotland will continue to press with the EU Commission, EU Parliament, Scottish Government and UK Government the case for a CAP that supports active Scottish farmers.”

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 39/13


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