2013-03-08 xml
Scottish CAP Priorities Reminder Sent to Minister

NFU Scotland has written to the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Owen Paterson MP, reminding him of Scottish farming priorities ahead of vital CAP Reform discussions.

The Union is concerned that recent Defra statements regarding CAP Reform have focussed solely on an English farming agenda. Scotland’s priorities are different and, as lead negotiator on behalf of the UK, NFUS is seeking reassurances from Mr Paterson that Scottish farming requirements from CAP Reform will be pursued.

Highland Cross Steers

Mr Paterson, who was unable to attend NFU Scotland’s recent Centenary AGM in St Andrews in February because of the horsemeat scandal, has been invited to visit Scotland later this month.

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said: “The next weeks and months will require intense effort by all of the UK’s farming ministers, their officials and key stakeholders to drive forward a CAP Reform package. That package must genuinely sustain production, enable rural communities to thrive, and support the delivery of a flourishing environment across the whole of the UK.

“That challenge is made greater by the diversity of agriculture and land use both within Scotland and the UK. Recent Defra statements appear to focus solely on English farming priorities only. However, UK ministers represent all UK farmers, and have a duty to represent Scotland’s interests in CAP negotiations.

“For the benefit of Scottish food and farming, party politics and political agendas must be set aside as we look to secure a farming and rural development package that works both for Scotland and other parts of the UK. There must be a clear commitment from UK ministers that they will also strive to articulate the priorities of the devolved regions.

“For Scotland, it is vital that Owen Paterson champions a support package that can tackle the more extreme production challenges faced in Scotland. Our mix of diverse agricultural systems, variable activity and a Scottish regional budget well below the European target of €196 per hectare means that Scottish producers are already on a pathway to low area payments that would place them at a competitive disadvantage.

“With 85 percent of our farmed area already designated as disadvantaged and less favoured, Scottish farming remains heavily dependent on fragile hill and upland livestock systems. Yet those actively managed livestock systems underpin remoter communities and provide the basis for rich biodiversity and iconic landscapes.

That is why we are seeking a CAP Reform package that will allow Scottish farmers to compete in the market and sustain livestock production. “Negotiations must deliver tools that can target support so that funding can be more efficiently used.

For Scotland, the ability to voluntarily couple support to sustain suckler beef herds and hill and island ewe flocks has to be one of our priorities but we require the UK to provide the full flexibility we might need if we choose this option.

“Defra Farming Minister David Heath MP, when visiting our recent AGM, outlined a pragmatic approach to voluntary coupled support. That option would act as a top-up to low area and greening payments in Scotland and help ensure funds go to those who are active.

“The alternative approach to parity for UK producers would be to press for transition measures to allow partial internal convergence until Scotland’s budget for area-based support reaches the €196 per hectare target or gains parity with similar payment regions in the rest of the UK.

Comparable farm businesses and enterprises working on similar land types should not face a permanent disadvantage because of where they are located within the UK.

“These are big issues and time is pressing. Scotland’s priorities are easiest explained in a farming setting and we have invited the Secretary of State to visit a typical Scottish upland livestock farm in the next few weeks.”

NFUS

   
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