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Union Targets Scottish Government and Europe Over Cap Implementation Failures

NFU Scotland has written to Scottish Government and will be in Europe this week as it emerges that plans for CAP implementation in Scotland will fail to deliver on two fronts.

On introduction of new CAP scheme rules next year, the Union has been resolutely committed to a twin track approach that effectively addresses the needs of existing scheme claimants and provides a robust national reserve to support new and developing businesses.

Unfortunately, under current Scottish Government proposals, some businesses disadvantaged by the reference period will not gain appropriate support through the national reserve.  At the same time, Scottish Government plans for transition will fail to provide the promised soft landing, leaving significant numbers of Scottish farmers facing a cliff edge on support levels.
 
The Union has written to the Scottish Government this week outlining that, as proposals stand, the key targets of such a twin track approach will be missed.   

The Union’s President, Nigel Miller and Chief Executive, Scott Walker will be in Brussels on Thursday and Friday (4 and 5 December) to ascertain what changes can be made at this late stage to delivery plans to prevent Scottish farmers being disadvantaged. The Union is aware that several other Member States have taken a different approach to implementation compared to that proposed in Scotland, where the interests of established businesses and new entrants look to have been significantly better supported.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“By driving through its unique approach to implementing CAP changes, the Scottish Government risks taking the industry down a dead end because its initial transition proposal has crashed into Europe’s regulatory barriers. Its subsequent knee jerk response to the Brussels block is reflected in its current plans for implementation.  Without change, these will fail to deliver for Scottish farming.

“What is currently on the table from Scottish Government will disadvantage the majority of established scheme claimants and fail to sweep up the problems of the historic system for new and establishing businesses.  It will put the industry at a disadvantage compared to competitors in Europe.

“In our opinion, Scottish Government’s approach to transition and national reserve are both flawed.  They tick a box and create the right headlines, but neither mechanism as proposed will deliver to the level that has been expected or anticipated by many. Without change, the Union cannot support this approach which is being foisted on the sector without the appropriate modelling work or an impact assessment.

“There is perhaps less than 14 days left to salvage a viable pathway and Scottish Government must be open to refining its plans.  Whatever its decision, it must be open with the industry and share its evidence base for the path it has chosen. The last few weeks has seen a major shift with no clear information being directly communicated to producers on the ground.  Accurate projections of future support are an essential part of any change management strategy.

“For our part, we will be in Brussels this week to get a better handle on the paths being taken by other member states and regions.  Scotland is out of line with the rest of Europe in using transition to positive effect.  Several member states have built their transition systems around the Irish model which was rejected by Scotland as too complex and inappropriate.                                           

“The Scottish Government subsequently promoted its own step transition system which failed to comply with the regulatory requirements of the new CAP.  As a result, a revised transition approach, starting in 2015, is being pushed by the Scottish Government without adequate consultation, and without any published analysis of the impacts.  The model is flawed.  

“Unlike Wales, that also proposes to use a five step approach to transition, Scotland now plans to implement the transition at the same time as significant Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 transfers, flat rate greening and a 20 percent transition step in 2015.   The result is that many established businesses face a cliff edge, not a soft-landing and are disadvantaged by transition plans.  In the present economic climate, and with the financial stresses that many of these very productive businesses are currently under, that is unacceptable.  

“Despite CAP reform fatigue and the relentless demands of new computer programmes, the future of the farms that make up the backbone of food production and all its associated industries still matters.  Failed implementation is very likely to cut into jobs, business viability and production.                                               

“We have written to the Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead urging him and his officials to change course.  If he is unable or unwilling to move on transition, then we believe he has a duty to explain to producers at the earliest opportunity how support changes in 2015 will impact on businesses and sectors.  A ready reckoner table to define support change is essential so that farm budgets can be redesigned, business plans altered and borrowing negotiated.

“It is unfortunate that we are addressing very basic issues at this late stage.  This is not, however, the moment to look back at missed opportunities.  It is a time for decisive action and direct negotiation with the EC.  And whatever the outcome, it is time to be open on the potential impacts.”     

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 182/14


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