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Scottish Farmers Talk CAP with Commissioner

Industry meets with Ciolos on reform flexibility

Europe’s Agricultural Commissioner has reassured Scottish farmers that a degree of flexibility is being built into his planned reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that will ensure Scotland fulfils its potential for farming and food production.

The Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, invited to Scotland by George Lyon MEP, met with representatives of Scottish agriculture in Ingliston near Edinburgh this morning (Thursday, 20 September).  The Union also had an opportunity the previous evening (Wednesday, 19 September) to meet in private with the Commissioner.

In a valuable question and answer session, the Commissioner provided clear steers on budget decisions, CAP reform timetable, scope for coupled payments in Scotland and flexibility in how ‘greening’ measures may be applied.

Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland’s President Nigel Miller said:

"With thousands of organisations and individuals involved in constructing the next CAP, Scottish farming representatives made the most of our opportunity to question the chief architect of EU agricultural reform and his officials on Scottish soil.

“Setting the EU budget is crucial to progress on CAP reform and we were reassured to hear how positive Commissioner Ciolos remains that a budget deal will be agreed in November.  That would allow CAP reform discussions to really move through the gears in 2013.

“Given that Scotland’s budget share – particularly within Pillar Two - falls well short of the EU average, we would look to the EU Commission to deliver on its convergence priority and, working with Westminster, look to ensure Scotland has a larger rural development fund going forward.

“Commissioner Ciolos was also upbeat that a deal on CAP Reform can be achieved in the first half of 2013, under the Irish Presidency of the EU.  Importantly, he recognised that it may be 2015 before the change to Single Farm Payments (SFP) is implemented – allowing both farmers and administrations time to adapt.

“The greening proposals, as currently stand, are a huge concern for the Scottish sector.  However, the Commissioner hinted that regional approaches to greening, provided they delivered on the EU’s environmental objectives, might be considered.  That opens up the door to Scotland looking at alternatives to issues like the three-crop rule and permanent pasture that better fit with our systems.

“Included in that was a suggestion that part of the seven percent environmental focus area requirement could be delivered collectively by a group of farmers. The Commissioner also made reference to using currently ineligible land and features to count towards the seven percent figure, and so limiting this measure’s impact on production.  These would certainly offer a more pragmatic route for Scottish farming.

“NFU Scotland’s desire to look at a greater level of recoupling payments to production may be more difficult to deliver.  The EU limit looks likely to remain at 5 percent in total for the UK but regionalisation and negotiation with Westminster may afford a higher figure for Scotland.  Given the interest that the Welsh and Northern Irish are now expressing in recoupling, there is a debate to be had amongst administrations on recoupled support in the weeks and months ahead.

"The option of pillar one top-ups through Areas of Natural Constraints must also be kept open to ensure there is a safety net for regions and islands in Scotland that may be failed by the new area-based system.

“We also pressed the Commissioner on how important our Less Favoured Area Support Scheme is to Scotland’s livestock sector.  His response was that his priority remains the LFASS mapping exercise and given the flexibility likely to be included in the final agreement this should raise few problems for Scotland. We believe there is genuine merit in the EU allowing LFASS to roll over in its current form to act as an anchor to help stabilise businesses while their Single Farm Payment undergoes significant change and we hope the door is open to pursue this further in Europe.” 

Notes to Editors

  • European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos’ visit to Scotland was hosted by George Lyon MEP.
  • The Commissioner visited Carneil Farm, Carneil, Carnock, Dunfermline this morning before attending a Question and Answer session with farmers and industry representatives at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston House, Ingliston.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 98/12


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