Farmers Urged to Think About Future of CAP

NFU Scotland has produced a new paper, which sets out different potential models for delivering farm support in future and is asking its members to consider how the alternative ideas would affect them.

In the last few months three major papers have been published, which could determine to a significant extent the shape of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2013. These are the EU Commission’s own Communication, the European Parliament’s report and, pertaining more specifically to Scotland, Brian Pack’s report on the future of support for agriculture in Scotland.

NFU Scotland broadly supports principles behind Brian Pack’s paper, which has put Scotland in the vanguard of debate in Brussels.   However, with the headline issues of the new CAP years away from agreement – not least relating to the size and distribution of the CAP budget – and different delivery models in the early stage of debate, NFUS is keen to keep minds and debates open on the future.

For this reason, NFUS has produced a series of alternative models on which it is consulting with its members, and looking for feedback early in 2011. These models include a grazing category-based system, which is already accepted in the EU for Less Favoured Areas support.

NFUS is also concerned that budget remains the key issue and that the UK Government has yet to articulate the importance of a strong CAP budget, especially Pillar 1, and that for reasons of food security, high production standards and the scope for market failure, we should not shy away from direct farm support just because we are living in austere times.

NFU Scotland’s President, Jim McLaren said:

“With such a long road ahead on CAP debate it is vital that Scotland keeps its options open. Brian Pack’s report provided a clear distillation of the issues and made a very good case for agricultural support. His payment model is but one option in our view and we must remember to keep it in context, not least because no other EU member state has played their hand as to what they want from the CAP after 2013.

“The gut reaction from most people is that the simplified system for non-LFA areas looks attractive, whereas there is a need to debate different ideas for the LFA where an area-based system could cause most distortion.

“We are sharing with our members a host of different ideas for Scotland, some of which have emerged from discussions they have had locally.  We’re not trying to raise expectations on what might be delivered ultimately – no-one can predict that just now – but simply ask people to think about systems that might work for their businesses.

“Again, we in Scotland must remember that however clear the case for Scotland, we are one of several countries making up an EU member state and that, on our behalf, the UK will negotiate as one among 27 others. It is crucial therefore that the UK Government is on side and I am still worried about Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman’s comments about reduced budgets and a move away from Pillar I support. Given that Scotland’s payments are currently below the EU average, Scotland’s producers in fragile regions and sectors would be even more vulnerable.

“In addition to budget negotiations, NFU Scotland will also endeavour to ensure the new CAP reacts more proportionately to breaches by farmers in the rules which surround farm payments. Penalty levels go significantly beyond the serious of errors and many Scottish farmers have seen minor infringements resulting in unfairly high penalties being deducted from their support payments.”

Options paper is available by clicking here


Contact Bob Carruth/Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4006/4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 171/10

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