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NFUS Back in Brussels on CAP Reform Business

NFU Scotland’s top team is back in Brussels this week as discussions on reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) continue to gather momentum.

The official text from the European Commission is expected on Wednesday, October 12 but a succession of leaks over the summer means that much of the Commission’s thinking on the subject has already been put into the public domain.

In recent weeks, NFU Scotland has hosted a leading Commission official on a farm tour of Scotland to discuss the importance of the CAP deal to Scottish farmers and crofters. This week will also see the Union’s President Nigel Miller and Chief Executive Scott Walker undertake a number of meetings with officials, MEPs and fellow farming unions in Brussels on Thursday (September 22) and Friday (September 23).

Ahead of the Brussels trip, NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said:

“The CAP reform juggernaut has started to move in Brussels, with a succession of leaks and briefings setting the scene ahead of the final proposal from the European Commission, which is expected on October 12.  The huge level of interest in the reform proposals simply underlines how important it is that we secure the right deal for Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

“Through the Pack Report, the CAP stakeholder groups and numerous meetings and consultations at home and in Europe, Scotland has shown tremendous diligence in mapping out its requirements from the reform package and we are well placed to feed into the debate – whether at a Scottish, Westminster or European level.

“Securing adequate support levels is crucial.  The budget proposals were made public in June indicating a flat line CAP spend from 2013 onwards. Taking inflation into account, there will less money available as we move forward into the 2013-2020 era but even that level of funding, if agreed, does give a degree of confidence for the future.

“There are complications.  The EC proposes to implement a policy of budget convergence, which means that all Member State budgets will move nearer to the EU average. The UK pillar 1 budget, from which Single Farm Payments come, may not change significantly as the UK average payment is almost at the EU mean.

“In pillar 2, the Rural Development fund budget will also be subject to convergence and this is where Scotland and the UK could win new money. That budget bonus depends on the UK Government drawing down the money from Europe and then co-financing from the Scottish Government being realised. In the current economic climate, securing political support will be a challenge.

“There are other key features emerging from the CAP leaks that are going to be hugely important to farmers and crofters. Top of the list will see farmers keen to see the shape of any new decoupled payment and we would want reassurances that there will be a meaningful link between receiving support and genuine farming activity.

“The publication of the reform proposals will also open up much needed discussions on the basic area payment, coupled payments, greening measures, ecological set aside and capping – all of which could have significant ramifications for the Scottish industry.

“Changes on the ground are not likely before 2015 and may well be phased-in to avoid any sudden shocks. This could mean that, without action, we could continue to exclude new businesses and new entrants from support. This issue is seen as a priority by both NFU Scotland and the Scottish Government and efforts will be made to gain the flexibility required from Europe to create a National Reserve for New Entrants as early as possible.

“Any measures outlined by the EC in the coming weeks and months will still evolve so we must be prepared to move with them and look for modifications in Brussels to fit the unique mix of land types and farming systems found in Scotland.

“The start gun may have already fired but the process of reform is very much a marathon.  Over the coming months there will be new opportunities and new problems. The Union will make every effort to ensure members and the industry are involved in that process and will use the feedback we receive to ensure the new CAP can support the farms and crofts of Scotland.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 157/11


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