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European Focus on CAP Budget Debate

NFU Scotland believes today’s European Parliamentary vote on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a significant milestone in the reform process but attention will quickly shift to next week’s crucial publication of Commission proposals on budgets for 2013 to 2020.

NFUS believes there will be a real challenge for Scotland to secure future funding, even though there is significant justification for Pillar 1 payments – responsible for direct support to farm businesses - to be maintained.  At the same time, there is a strong case for additional funds to go into Scotland’s Pillar 2 pot – which supports rural development.

Speaking from the 2011 Highland Show, taking place at Ingliston near Edinburgh, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“It is clear that with regards to CAP reform, the European Parliament and the Commission are now much closer in their thinking on the way forward for farm support through Single Farm Payment (SFP) and other elements of CAP.  An agreement on CAP will be the first major test for Europe’s co-decision process but with thinking between Parliament and the Commission now converging, that could smooth the way to an agreement on reform.

“The next major step on the road to reform of CAP is publication next week of the Commission’s proposed financial perspective for the budget over the period of 2013 to 2020. We await the proposal with interest and assuming the budget gets a fair wind from Member States, then we will then be on course for the Commission’s legislative proposals for CAP Reform to be made public in October or November.

“Ensuring Scotland secures a budget for CAP schemes that matches our current level of payments will be a major challenge, especially given the severe financial constraints that many EU Member States are under.  However, we are committed to securing a fair share of both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 funds for Scotland.   If equitable distribution of funding is to mean anything, then securing additional funds for Pillar 2, where our historic level of payment is at the bottom of the EU league, must be a realistic ambition even in a tight budget situation.

“At the same time, we are continuing to discuss with our members what shape the SFP should take in the future.  We have put together the outline of system that takes into consideration all the discussions that NFUS has had with its members, stakeholders, Scottish Government, Westminster and Europe in recent times.

“The paper strives to identify an SFP that is fair to all farmers in Scotland and addresses the need of the agricultural and food supply chains going forward.  While we continue to discuss the detail with members, there are some clear principles that are evolving and the engagement across regions and branches has been excellent.

“We need to look at how we regionalise Scotland and budgets and we must use the tools available in the CAP to address the agricultural needs of each of these regions.  Scottish agriculture is not uniform so a ‘one-size fits all’ approach would not deliver the productive agriculture we wish to see.

“The basic area payment, which is likely to be the foundation of the new SFP, is a blunt instrument.   The variations of systems and differences in stocking rates across Scotland are extreme and need to be built in to the top up payment systems envisaged by Europe.   The Area of Natural Handicap (ANH) top up and the coupled box system are the only tools on the table at the moment.  It will be vital, it a tight budget, these are targeted correctly.

“Our politicians, at European, UK and Scottish level, must make such flexibility a priority in the imminent negotiations.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 112/11


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