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European Package a Let Down for Scottish Farmers

A €500 million package proposed by the European Commission following yesterday’s demonstrations in Brussels will deliver little for Scotland’s farming sector.

Although final detail of the proposals, as discussed at an emergency meeting of farm ministers, has yet to emerge it is clear that these will not deliver relief to struggling Scottish farmers.

Speaking on his return from Brussels, Mr Bowie said:
“Yesterday’s huge show of strength by more than 5000 farmers sought a meaningful response from the European Commission but with full details yet to emerge, it appears that no immediate benefit for Scottish farming will be forthcoming.

“It is a disappointment that the Commission has not grasped the seriousness of the situation. Not only does the dairy-centric package fail to recognise that the current crisis is hitting all agricultural sectors but it is uncertain if the deal itself will even benefit Scottish dairy farmers – a lose, lose situation.

“Without European support, the focus is now domestic.  We need Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss and Scottish Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to waste no time in pulling our retail and food service sectors into line and insist they put supply chains in place that ensure the burden of risk carried by primary producers is better recognised through a fairer share of the margins.

“The price crisis also make delivery of support payments by Richard Lochhead in early December vital to allow Scottish farmers to manage cash flow in their businesses.  

“The delivery timetable flexibilities proposed in yesterday’s EU package are virtually meaningless in a Scottish context without an equal commitment from Europe to roll back on the inspection and cross-compliance demands.  Therefore delivery of CAP support in the first week of December is now a ‘must do’ for the Cabinet Secretary.”

Notes to Editors

  • The Commission presented a €500m package of measures to ministers which can be read here. The headline points are:
    • The Commission propose that member states will be allowed to pay 70% of direct payments from 16 October rather than the usual 1 December opening of the payment window, subject to cross checking.
    • The Commission propose ‘targeted aid’ for the dairy sector. This cash is the majority of the €500m headline figure. It is made up of the ‘superlevy’ paid by those dairy farmers in member states that produced over quota in the last quota year. It is expected that all member states will get a share, even if – like the UK - they did not pay superlevy.  
    • The Commission is working on a series of measures with the European Investment Bank, yet to be determined.
    • The Commission presented medium and long term measures on the food chain, including looking at unfair trading practices, and the development of futures markets etc.
  • NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie, Vice President Rob Livesey and Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam were in Brussels yesterday (7 September).  Along with other UK faming unions, NFUS met with Secretary of State for Defra Liz Truss.  NFUS also met with Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead. The Union also joined several thousand European farmers in a demonstration outside the European Agriculture Ministers extraordinary council meeting. 
  • Photographs of the NFUS delegation are available from media@nfus.org.uk
  • Along with other UK farming unions, NFU Scotland believes the following measures that should be taken in the short, medium and long term by the UK and devolved administrations in close collaboration with the EU institutions to address the problems facing the farming sector.
    • Easing cash flow difficulties and strengthening safety nets by ensuring delivery of direct support payments under the new CAP arrangements in December; delivery of agri-environment and rural development support in early autumn; significantly simplifying the CAP; exploring options for long term investment in agriculture through the European Investment Bank and commitment to review the intervention levels for dairy products.
    • Injecting long term thinking and fairness into the food supply chain at both UK and EU levels; ensure food sourced from out with the EU doesn’t contravene EU regulations or distort the market place; establish an EU task force to tackle the lamb market and sheep sector and drive forward longer term measures in the dairy sector to provide resilience to extreme volatility.
    • Developing opportunities for UK produce and UK farmers by significantly strengthening country of origin labelling (COOL); increase funding levels available for promoting Scottish or UK produce in new markets both in EU and non-EU countries and strengthen investment in farming, research and innovation to improve productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.

Ends


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 171/15


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