NFU Scotland has welcomed the outcome of the Scottish Parliamentary debate on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Health Check, which saw MSPs of all parties deliver a united message that recognised the importance of sustainable farming and food production to Scotland.
The wide-ranging debate, held on Wednesday 21 January, also supported amendments for the retention of the Crofting Bull Hire Scheme, called for policymakers to look at ways in which future support arrangements for agriculture could be linked to activity and that the forthcoming review of the Rural Priorities scheme is wide-ranging.
NFU Scotland Chief Executive, James Withers said:
“While yesterday’s debate was set around the CAP Health Check, agreed in Brussels at the end of last year, it ultimately provided a platform for politicians of all political parties to show their considerable support for farming, crofting and food production in this country. The final motion, as agreed by MSPs, is welcome recognition from politicians of the need for a sustainable future for our industry.
“NFU Scotland worked hard with the Scottish Government and Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to deliver an acceptable outcome on the Health Check. The resultant decision on CAP answered most of Scotland’s concerns including preserving the way the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme is funded. What this Scottish Parliament debate has shown is that politicians fully appreciate the role that agriculture and food production plays in Scotland, the important role that continued support will play and are open to considering policy decisions that ensure our industry continues to move forward in a positive manner.
“These political messages are all important as we move into period when much debate is needed and some crucial decisions will need to be taken. The industry needs a package of measures to address its concerns and much of that revolves around ensuring that the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) and its associated schemes – Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme, Rural Priorities and Land Managers Option - deliver to best effect.
“The debate on the future of CAP beyond its current timeframe of 2013 also needs to start now. Within NFUS that process has begun and our membership is increasingly behind the need to see the receipt of farming support payments linked in some way to active farming in the future. At yesterday’s debate, Scottish politicians also recognised that there is a need for policymakers to examine this thorny issue as a matter of urgency. However, identifying a way of defining activity without a return to the bureaucracy involved with previous direct payment systems presents a huge challenge.
“Last week’s debate on the future of the Crofting Bull Hire Scheme also struck a chord with our politicians and that was reflected in the adoption of yesterday’s amendment. The briefing that NFUS provided to politicians last week supported the scheme’s retention and the backing of all MSPs is reassuring ahead of a meeting with Environment Minister Mike Russell in early February to discuss the scheme’s future.”
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