NFU Scotland has written to the UK Secretary of State for Agriculture, Caroline Spelman, highlighting the Scottish priorities that it wants to be kept in mind when CAP Reform negotiations gather pace in the year ahead.

The letter to the Secretary of State was sent ahead of NFU Scotland meeting with the Agriculture Minister Jim Paice, and Scottish Secretary of State, Michael Moore at the Royal Highland Show tomorrow (Thursday 21 June)

In his letter to Mrs Spelman, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller acknowledges that the Defra team carry the unenviable responsibility of securing the best deal for the whole of the United Kingdom from the current CAP negotiations with Europe.

However, the letter also seeks to remind the Defra minister that the priorities of the UK regions are not uniform and, in Scotland, we need to ensure key options are secured in the interests of the Scottish agricultural industry and the rural economy it underpins.

Commenting ahead of the Highland Show meeting with ministers, Nigel Miller said:

"In our letter to Mrs Spelman, NFU Scotland is advocating a package of measures it believes are key to protecting new entrants and existing businesses in this period of substantial change to direct support arrangements under the new CAP.

"The reform process will present a significant challenge for established Scottish farm businesses, many of which could potentially suffer steep reductions to their support payments. At the same time, new businesses and those currently frozen out by Scotland's historic-based support system are very vulnerable.

"While priorities in other parts of the UK may lie elsewhere, Scotland needs a support package that helps us manage the transition to area based payments, recognises the ability through targeted support to protect vulnerable sectors and also, at an early stage, give those currently locked out of support access to the schemes.

"We also need to build into our negotiation stance a degree of contingency planning should CAP Reform agreement be subject to significant delay.

"In the heat of the CAP reform debate, which is likely to gather significant momentum under the Irish presidency in 2013, we are building on the good relationship we have developed with Mrs Spelman and her staff by reminding her of the Scottish priorities.

"It is vital that the foundations of stability are laid now and that the UK Government works with the EU Commission to develop a package to provide Scottish producers with confidence. We want to work with Mrs Spelman to achieve that." Ends

Notes to Editors

In its letter to Caroline Spelman, NFUS has identified five priorities that require to be negotiated at a European level to mitigate the against the most destabilising aspects of the new CAP:

A commitment to a gradual transition for existing businesses to avoid the sudden fracture of lifeline payments. The proposed 5-year transition with much of the move front loaded in year one is too short. In England the adjustment took place over 8 years. It is essential that we be given a longer time period than is currently proposed by the EU Commission.

A mechanism to allow a continuing national reserve to be created as soon as required to support new businesses and those locked out of the present historic-based SFP.

Securing the option of voluntary coupled support so that at least 10% of Scotland’s Pillar1 payments can be targeted at vulnerable sectors.

Ensuring Scotland is able to apply minimum stocking requirements to non-cropped land in order to ensure that only land, which is actively farmed, receives payments.

Bridging mechanisms to allow existing Pillar 2 measures to roll over into the new budget period until a new rural development programme is approved.

Date Published:

News Article No.: 60/12

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