The EU Commission must take a proportionate and rational approach to ‘greening’ of the CAP; NFU Scotland’s combinable crops committee has insisted.

Arable farmers in Scotland are concerned that proposed measures to enhance the environmental role of the CAP’s Pillar I could, in fact, have the opposite effect.

The EU Commission’s Communication: the CAP towards 2020, published in November 2010 and due to be voted on in a EU Parliament committee today (Wednesday, 25 May), advocates that additional payments for agri-environment activities be incorporated into Pillar I, which provides direct support payments to EU farmers.

Scottish farmers are keen to point out, however, that the vast majority of activities to which the EU Commission refers in its Communication, are already being delivered on Scottish farms and that by being required to prove their environmental credentials on a separate basis, they could be unfairly penalised. The EU Commission must therefore seek to introduce proposals that take into account Scotland’s unique terrain, climate, production systems and good environmental record.

NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee Chairman, Andrew Moir said:

“Farmers in Scotland have a very good story to tell in terms of green production and the EU Commission must take into account the fact that some of their proposals, if adopted on an EU-wide basis, could in fact be detrimental to Scottish farming.

“For example, the measure which would require farmers to grow multiple crops each year simply would not work in Scotland; it does not take into account the ability of farms to produce a variety of crops, nor the market that exists for them. Scotland’s climate and farming systems are not conducive to maize monoculture, which is the target of this measure, and each Scottish farm will have a well-established rotation, which suits the capability of their land and the local market place.

“We don’t have sugar beet processors or oilseed crushers but what we do have is a huge and important distilling industry, which needs our products - high quality malting barley and distilling wheat. And we have livestock that need feed and straw in the wintertime. With input costs for livestock producers already rising exponentially, it would be unacceptable to adopt set-aside measures that would curtail Scottish production of animal feed. As global population growth is also ballooning it is morally questionable to restrict our capacity to produce food as well.

"Crop diversity and biodiversity features must be defined to fit Scottish conditions and the EU Commission must design these measures so that they are user friendly.

“Pillar II is an ideal basis for delivering on environmental measures which should also be seen as greening features. Decision-makers must take on board the fact that these green features are already an outcome of Scottish farming

“The EU farm unions’ umbrella organisation, COPA, is at pains to emphasise the fact that it is unfair to introduce further costly requirements on EU producers while non-EU imports do not have to adhere to these standards.

“The CAP should enable farms to grow environmentally and economically, improving competitiveness and the effectiveness of the food supply chain, including relationships with retailers. In 2010 the world consumed more wheat than it produced and its population is expected to increase.

“We fully support sustainable farming and a green CAP, but the measures that are put in place to bring this about must make sense. Crop diversity and biodiversity features must be defined so that they fit Scottish conditions and the Commission must make all efforts to ensure that happens.”



Date Published:

News Article No.: 90/11

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