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MEPs Move CAP in Right Direction, But Still Far To Go, Says Farming Union

CAP reform took a step in the right direction this week as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) published their latest set of amendments to EU proposals.

Consolidating the record-breaking 7,500 amendments into a document of 100, MEPs have had a mammoth task reflecting the diversity of opinion across the EU.

NFU Scotland has been in negotiations throughout the process with its membership, politicians, civil servants and other interested parties in Scotland, the UK and across the EU to ensure that Scotland’s agricultural interests are upheld.

The latest developments demonstrate some success in the areas of greening and the way in which Scotland moves from its current system of direct support to farmers, which is paid on an ‘historical’ basis to an ‘area system.’ The reforms still have some way to go, not least as the ultimate result depends on decisions to be taken on the EU’s multi-annual financial framework, or budget, which will not conclude until early 2013.

NFU Scotland’s Chief Executive, Scott Walker commented:

“This is another step on the road towards CAP reform, but with the European Parliament being only one of three parties that will determine the final outcome, it is still too early to determine exactly what this means for Scottish farmers.

“That said, the MEPs’ amendments take some major aspects of the reforms in a better direction; there is a real recognition of the difficulties of moving to an area-based payment from an historical model. For the first time, EU decision-makers have set down in writing an acceptance that the move to a single regional payment rate will not have to be completed by 2019. This will help to ensure that Scotland can adopt the new scheme gradually without jeopardising production levels, while a national reserve can be created for new entrants and those farmers who have been disadvantaged by the historic payment system.

“NFU Scotland’s stance on greening is gaining ground; one with a proposal to administer permanent grassland at a national rather than farm level and greater flexibility on crop diversification. Although much still remains to campaign for, these are moves in the right direction.

“There is good news on permanent grassland and crop diversification. The changes to Ecological Focus Areas are welcome too: a 5% limit and a move to 7% only after taking into account the impact on agricultural production.

“Looming large, however, are the budgetary issues, which still hang heavy, and until this is resolved, progress will remain slow.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

NFU Scotland’s CAP priorities are as follows:

  • Getting the best budget deal.
  • Seeking convergence of payments.
  • Getting area-based payments right. 
  • Focusing on active farmers.
  • Having the option of coupled support.
  • Protecting more disadvantaged areas.
  • Putting the next generation on an even footing.
  • Maximising the time to adjust.
  • Paying support out with certainty.
  • Simplifying cross-compliance.
  • Building an official advisory service
  • Greening that is practical.

NFU Scotland’s Greening priorities are as follows:

  • Greening must suit individual farm businesses.
  • Winter and spring crops should count as separate crops.
  • Crop diversification should account for two, not three crops.
  • EFAs should be widened to include ineligible areas and landscape features that provide significant environmental resources.
  • Permanent pasture must differentiate between uncultivated and improved/managed land.
  • Greening should not prescribe practices that qualify, rather, it should look at environmental outcomes – so-called ‘equivalence’.
  • Accredited agri-environmental and climate change programmes should count towards a farm’s greening activity.
  • Farmers must be able to opt out the greening scheme (30 per cent of his or her basic payment) without being penalised beyond their greening payment.

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 158/12


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