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Show Starts with Positive Moves on Key Issues

The 2010 Royal Highland Show has started with some important progress being announced on some key issues for Scotland’s farming community, according to NFUS.

The Show is hosting today (24 June) two of Europe’s key figures involved in the future of the EU farm support system; Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos and the Chairman of the European Parliament Agriculture Committee Paolo De Castro.  NFUS President Jim McLaren has had the opportunity to speak to both men this morning on the importance of securing the right form of support for Scotland’s food and farming industry.

Beyond this, important other announcements have also been made today, in particular on the future of the animal health budget and sheep identification regulations.

On the future of CAP support, NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“There were two really significant things the Agriculture Commissioner spoke of this morning.  Firstly he fully recognised the importance of supporting active farmers.  This ensures that farming delivers on its number one priority of producing food - and from that flows all the wider public benefits that are so critical to Scotland.

“Secondly, he made frequent references to the importance of recognising diversity in different member states and their regions.  We know we will have a single Common Agricultural Policy within a single market.  But I get the sense that there is understanding of the need to ensure flexibility which allows regions like Scotland to develop a policy on the ground which reflects our unique circumstances.

“I also took the opportunity to impress upon both him and Mr De Castro the importance of a more proportionate penalty system.   Currently, we have a system which results in large fines for small administrative error which is denting confidence within the industry and actually creating an incentive to reduce activity; the very opposite of what we want to see happening.”

Also this morning, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead announced progress on devolving Scotland’s share of the UK animal health budget.  Reacting to that, NFUS Vice President Nigel Miller said:

“The news that the animal health budget could be devolved to Scotland from April next year is obviously good news for the industry.  The commitment to transfer the money is long overdue and until the budget is secure, the whole future of Scottish animal health and welfare is in a state of limbo.  Once we hold the purse strings its going to be a lot easier to drive the animal health and welfare policy where we want it to go.  

“It is absolutely crucial that the budget comes to Scotland, and is not unfairly depleted by the time it comes north of the border.  We simply want a fair deal for Scottish farmers.”

The third key area of political movement today was announced by the new Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore who, whilst attending the Show, unveiled that UK Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice will attend next week’s Agriculture Council of Ministers in Brussels.  There, he will formally request both a review of the implementation of sheep identification regulations and a moratorium on cross compliance penalties for the next three years.

In response to this welcome move on sheep ID regulations, NFUS Chief Executive James Withers said:

“Sheep ID regulations have been a long running issue.  Whilst much-needed concessions have being fought for and won by both industry and Government working together, there are still fundamental issues we want addressed. 

“The move by the new UK coalition Government is an important step and hopefully demonstrates an early commitment to achieving better regulation for agriculture. 

“The really big win would be ensuring that animals which remain on their holding are exempt from the current electronic tagging requirements.  Sheep which are not moving, and remain on their holding of birth, are not able to transfer disease and so it is a nonsense that they are caught up in this regulation.   Sorting out that issue is still a key step to move forward.

“However, beyond the detail, the political significance of this move is worthy of note.  It is an early positive step laid out by the new U.K Government and hopefully a sign of things to come.”

Ends

Contact Wendy Fleming on 0131 472 4020

 

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