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Stackyard News Jan 08

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EU Commissioner Hears of Scotland's CAP Vision

NFU Scotland has met the EU Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, to outline its ideas on how Europe’s farm policy could be tailored to deliver maximum food production, environmental and economic benefits to the public.


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At a meeting on 28 January in Brussels, NFUS stressed the potential of Scottish farming to deliver huge benefits if the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides the flexibility and support required.

During the meeting with the Commissioner, NFUS outlined Scotland’s priorities for this year’s ‘health-check’ of the CAP and also its long-term vision for the support system beyond 2013. The Union has also invited the Commissioner to Scotland to continue discussions.

Speaking from Brussels after the meeting, NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“We had a very helpful meeting with the Commissioner who listened with interest to our ideas for developing a CAP which provides the foundation for viable farm businesses to deliver a whole range of benefits. Clearly, quality food production, environmental stewardship and protection of rural communities are at the top of that list of benefits.

“In our view, it is important that the health-check lays a foundation for longer-term reform of the CAP. Competitiveness is key to any industry and we stressed that, in our view, the priority is to have an objective and transparent basis of payment rather than any arbitrary ceilings on support, like those set out in capping proposals.

“Much of the meeting though focussed on the long-term future of CAP and how we could create a framework for industries like ours in Scotland to fulfil their potential. The Commissioner agreed that we need a system that is transparent and justifiable to the public. Ideally, the market alone would deliver a sustainable platform for the industry, but that is patently not the case now and remains in doubt over the longer-term. In its absence, we need a support structure which sustains agricultural activity and the knock-on benefits.

“By its nature, any historic system of support, like Scotland’s, has a shelf life. We set out the principles of a new regime which would recognise the costs on farmers of delivering public goods in different areas of the country. We emphasised the huge disparities that any flat-rate payment would cause in a country like Scotland. The Commissioner was open to looking at an area system which recognises that the costs of delivering public goods through farming differs across the country. That now provides a helpful platform for further discussion and we hope to host a visit by the Commissioner later this year.”

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