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Developing Greening Options for Northern Europe

Spelman, Lochhead and Lyon to address NFUS conference

Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead and MEP George Lyon are amongst those set to address a two-day international seminar organised by NFU Scotland examining the impacts of the EU Commission's greening proposals and ways in which they can be made to work.

The Commission currently suggests that 30 percent of direct payments to farmers will now be contingent on a set of ‘greening’ requirements being met. There are serious concerns that the proposals – which, in their current form include ecological focus areas (EFAs), crop rotation (a three-crop rule), and requirements for permanent grassland - could be hugely problematic for Scottish, UK and EU farmers.

The event, taking place in Edinburgh on Monday 30 April and Tuesday 1 May, brings together key stakeholders including speakers and delegates from the EU’s decision making bodies, international farming representatives and others who are at the heart of the CAP negotiations. The conference will consider ways in which the greening proposals can be made to work for Scottish and Northern EU farmers while upholding the farming industry, food production, enhancing environmental standards, and meeting political, budgetary and public expectations.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller, who will chair part of the event, said:

“The EU Commission’s greening proposals are almost unanimously controversial across the whole of the EU but are the cornerstone of Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş’ vision for the new CAP. In a time of extreme economic austerity the CAP budget is being safeguarded to a great extent because of its commitment to environmental and climate change targets. The proposed package of three Europe-wide measures can never fit the climate and geography of all 27 Member States, however, and, even if unintended, look destructive to Scottish agriculture and difficult for much of northern Europe.

“We need to tease out the impact of the three-crop rule, permanent grassland and ecological focus areas across Northern Europe and start seriously to promote alternative smart solutions that will contribute to the EC’s environmental targets while fitting with efficient production and the increasing demands of food security.

“This conference brings together a selected group of politicians, civil servants, policy specialists and farmers to look at the ways in which we can achieve the best greening outcome for our members as well as the arc of northern EU member states with whom we share similar landscape, weather and production patterns.

“We are delighted to have attracted such a distinguished group, including Defra Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman, Scottish Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, former President and key EU Parliament CAP negotiator, George Lyon MEP, as well as representatives from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Holland.

“The aim is to create as much common ground across like-minded EU member states as possible. There is no denying that when it comes to influencing EU decision making there is strength in numbers, and a clear consensus from this meeting around greening will be a hugely important lobbying tool.” 

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • NFU Scotland’s conference ‘DEVELOPING GREENING OPTIONS FOR NORTHERN EUROPE’ will take place at the Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, EH26 0PZ on Monday, 30 April and Tuesday, 1 May.
  • The agenda for Monday, 30 April includes presentations by Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman and George Lyon MEP.  Representatives of the following organisations will also address the conference that day: DG Agri, Hutton Institute, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Game Wildlife and Conservancy Trust, SAC, Cairngorm National Park and the Scottish Government.
  • The agenda for Tuesday, 1 May includes speakers from England, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands on their national perspective.  Scottish Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead will deliver the keynote address.
  • Although the event is not open to the press, it is intended to hold press briefings during the lunch break on both days.  More details to follow.
  • A briefing paper outlining the ‘greening’ proposals and NFU Scotland’s response is available on request.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 39/12


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