Starting Gun Fired on CAP Reform Process

After weeks of leaks and months of speculation, Europe has finally published its formal proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).  

Here in Scotland, the whole CAP package of direct payments and rural development is currently responsible for delivering more than £650 million of support to Scottish farmers and crofters, underpinning the nation’s farming and food sectors. Across Europe, the CAP – established almost 50 years ago – has been responsible for supporting production in an expanding number of member states and making affordable food available to 500 million European consumers.

The reform proposals, announced in Brussels today, envisage wholesale changes to the way support is delivered to Europe’s farming businesses from 2014 onwards and are likely to spark an intense period of negotiations in the coming months and years.  Striking a deal will involve stakeholders, Scottish Government, Westminster, other member states and the Commission.  Unlike previous CAP discussions, co-decision now means that any reform package will also need to be ratified by the European Parliament. 

Speaking from Brussels ahead of a meeting with Agricultural Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“Such is the importance of ongoing support through the CAP, that securing the right reforms will be crucial to the success of virtually every agricultural business in Scotland and the right deal is needed if we are to continue driving our food and farming industries forward.

“With the initial detail now formally on the table, NFUS must build on the substantial groundwork already undertaken here in Scotland which has mapped out our priorities for support arrangements in the future.  The challenge is now to develop our discussions at all levels to ensure Scotland’s needs are recognised when the final deal is thrashed out.

“Scotland’s priorities are already well established.  We want a better link between support payments and activity; the ability to continue payments that are coupled to production where it is appropriate; flexibility to recognise the diverse nature of our farming sector; a simpler and more proportionate legislative and penalty framework and support for new entrants to our industry from day one of the new regime. 

“The indications are that much of what Scotland wants can, with ongoing negotiation, be delivered through the proposed framework but hard work is ahead to refine some of the more worrying and potentially damaging proposals. 

“Farmers have known for some time that this reform will see our main support provider, the Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme phased out.  In the future, payments will be made up of a basic area payment – with differing regional rates across Scotland - and additional payments that target certain activities, regions and groups. There will need to be some serious consideration given as to how that approach plays out in Scotland if that fundamental change is to properly recognise farming activity across the whole country.

“Given that we may also be several years away from a CAP deal, we need to provide some stability and security to farmers, particularly tenants, during the changeover.  It appears as though the Commission has taken this on board and has established the principle of a reference period for the new direct support to be based on existing activity now – in 2011 – and the support will be triggered if the claimant is still an active farmer at the key 2014 start date.

“Given that this approach will create anomalies, it justifies the creation of a national reserve. A national reserve is also essential if we are to assist new entrants to our industry as early as possible in the new CAP regime.

“The CAP paper looks to place a meaningful link between support and activity.  That is hugely important for Scotland if we are to avoid a limited budget being devoured by the 1.5 million hectares of unfarmed or abandoned land in the country.  We will look into how payment goes to farmed areas and not empty land.

“Today’s announcement shows that while there is potential for many of our requirements to be met through the new CAP, the proposals also contain a great many challenges to overcome.

“The suggestion that support be partly dependent on adopting ‘greening’ measures is a concern and could run contrary to the urgent need to grow more produce in Europe and address world food security issues in a positive way.  While it is highly likely that some stronger environmental link will be needed, requirements around crop diversification, permanent grassland and ecological focus areas run the risk of asking producers to take productive land out of production to secure as much as 30 percent of their support. That is nonsense and must be rethought.

“All leaked documents consistently included a commitment to capping payments to individual businesses and that has been included in the final proposal.  That directly challenges the larger farm businesses found in Scotland and sets a worrying precedent.  We will continue to argue that every euro of support delivers measurable benefit and that capping larger businesses is unjustifiable.

“This is the start of a long journey and past experience of reform negotiations tells us that the initial proposal can bear little resemblance to the final package.  The measures outlined today will doubtless evolve.  NFUS and its members must be prepared to move with them and look for modifications to the regulations in Brussels and their implementation in Edinburgh.” 


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006




Date Published:

News Article No.: 164/11

< Article List


Report Abusive Comment

Comment Content:

Why it offends me (optional):

Have Your Say

No-one has commented on this article yet. Be the first to have your say...

New Comment


Total Pages:
Total Results:
Page Start:
Page Result #:

Quick Contact

Which Region do you live in?  
Are you a member of NFU Scotland?  

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.

Registred Address

NFU Scotland
Head Office
Rural Centre - West Mains
Ingliston, Midlothian
EH28 8LT

Place of registration: Scotland

Company Registration Number: SC214564

Tel: 0131 472 4000

NFU Mutual Logo

Get the App

NFUS App QR Code

©NFU Scotland • All Rights Reserved • Web design by Big Red DigitalLog in


Contact Us




No Robots:

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.