2014-03-07   facebook twitter rss

Rural Development Measures Must Deliver

NFU Scotland has mapped out its vision for a simpler, re-prioritised and more accessible rural development scheme that can deliver for Scotland’s food and farming sectors, its rural economy and its environmental well-being.

The Union’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014-2020 clearly states that this should be a vehicle to drive the rural economy and also spin off multiple benefits, including a significant contribution to ambitious climate change targets.

Highland Cow

Working within the confines of an extremely limited rural development budget, the Union believes that these limited Pillar 2 funds must also be used to complement the direct support available to farmers and crofters through Pillar 1 of the CAP.

To be most effective, it calls on the Scottish Government to match – or increase – the level of funding it committed to the SRDP in 2007 to 2013. Specifically, the Union calls on the Scottish Government to match fund the 9.5 percent of funds that it will transfer from Scotland’s direct support (Pillar 1) pot for farmers to the SRDP.

The Union has also proposed the following:

  • A three-tier structure for the schemes available, including an easier access level to increase participation, improved delivery and ceilings set on funding levels
  • Continuation of the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) in its current form and with its existing budget
  • A package for resilience measures for all sectors and farm types, including small-scale drainage, flood management options, precision technology and recording
  • to drive business and carbon efficiency across Scottish agriculture
  • Cattle development programmes - to drive efficiency, genetic development and a reduced carbon footprint, and linked to increases in quality and yield
  • Support for innovation, collaboration and new entrants
  • A reinvigorated approach to support for crofting in the Highlands and Islands which also extends support to small farms.
  • A bigger agri-environment budget that goes further than biodiversity and landscapes to deliver carbon efficiency and water quality.

To achieve this, the Union believes the SRDP’s proposed budgets need to be re-prioritised. It believes woodland creation targets should be reduced by 50 percent to free up some £16 million per year for farm efficiency measures - contributing to climate change goals and improving farm business performance, whilst still increasing Scotland’s tree cover.

It also proposes that to allow funds to be re-prioritised, proposals for the National Rural Networks budget could be cut and existing networks on the ground utilised instead, supporting them through the Advisory Service and the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund.

Commenting on the Union’s vision for SRDP delivery, President Nigel Miller said:

“Scotland’s Rural Development Programme must be a programme for people, production and a living, carbon-efficient landscape.

“We firmly believe that the priorities we have mapped out for the future SRDP create a foundation for the development of a smarter and more efficient agricultural industry which can operate in a tougher economic and environmental climate.

“The three-tier approach we have mapped out would, we believe, improve access to the scheme while the use of ceilings will help to make sure that, over the whole term of the programme, the reach of the SRDP extends into every corner of Scotland and hits holdings, of every type and size.

“Given the severe budgetary constraints, our rural development programme is an opportunity to complement the support delivered to our food and farming sectors by Pillar 1.

“The ongoing delivery of a fully funded Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme is a priority as this currently does so much for livestock production in our hills and uplands. The huge pressure that changes to our weather patterns have brought on farming businesses in recent years means that measures to support drainage and resilience are essential if we are to underpin our ability to produce. And we also want to ensure that we get better at what we do, so a scheme that drives efficiency and improvement into our cattle systems could be a game changer.

“To deliver such transformational change and unlock the potential in our agricultural systems requires budgets to be re-prioritised. We believe that there is scope to re-focus elements of the budget proposals that would still deliver woodland or rural network ambitions but free up funds to deliver greater value from the programme.”

UPM

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