CAP approaches final hurdle
Lochhead urges UK Government to fight for fair deal for Scottish farmers.
Scotland’s farming minister has called on the UK Government to do the right thing for Scottish farmers as Common Agricultural Policy reform talks near a conclusion.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead will attend the crucial talks in Luxembourg next week where it is hoped a final deal may be reached. But – because Scotland does not have a seat at the negotiating table – it will be the UK Government which must press Scotland’s case.
Mr Lochhead has written to DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson to reiterate Scotland’s priorities at this stage in the negotiations:
- A level playing field for voluntary coupled support
- Better funding arrangements for new entrants
- The option, within greening measures, to tackle climate change
Mr Lochhead said:
“These are crucial CAP talks and possibly the last chance to influence the final outcome. A key priority for Scotland – which I will be pushing hard on - is securing a level playing field for voluntary coupled support across Europe, with the option of using up to 15 per cent.
“It is blatantly unfair that there should be a two tier system for coupled payments, with Scotland - where we have tested the water by decoupling and have monitored the impact that this has had on livestock numbers – on the lower tier.
“Despite this, Scotland’s livestock numbers have fallen and we must do more to stop further erosion of numbers, prevent land being abandoned and keep our hills farmed and delivering the wider environmental benefits that this brings.
“It’s also vital that we have adequate funding arrangements for new entrants and that means we need a fully functioning national reserve which we can replenish to support future new entrants.
“And I firmly believe that there is room in the CAP deal for measures – within the existing greening measures - to tackle climate change and have called on the UK Government to raise this issue.
“I recognise that the last stages of the negotiations will be complex but I hope member states will be able to support our priorities – as we are not able to put our case directly.
“The conclusion of the CAP talks has been a long time coming but there is still time for the UK Government to do the right thing – and, for the sake of our farmers, that’s what I’ve called on them to do.
“We will have to work hard to reach a deal next week but I am optimistic that we will reach a decision next week on the principles, through there will still be details to be addressed. This will help to give our farmers clarity about the future which I know will be welcomed.”
Scotland’s livestock figures have fallen since 2005 from around 430,000 in 2005 to 403,000 in 2012.