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03/10/13 01:00

Scotland’s CAP choices

Rural Affairs Secretary sets out thinking on implementation.

The new CAP deal could lead to more support for the Scottish beef sector and new entrants to farming.

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead set out his thinking on how CAP reform could be implemented in Scotland.

Opening the debate, Mr Lochhead said:

“The Scottish Government will formally seek views later this year on how the new CAP should be implemented in Scotland, and it would be wrong for me to pre-empt the results of those consultations.

“However, I know farmers are keen to have as much certainty as possible and so I would like to outline my thinking at this stage about some of the important decisions that we will be making here in Scotland.

“Implementing greening and moving from historic to area-based payments are among the big CAP reform challenges facing Scottish farming. A lot of work is already underway to help determine the best solution for Scotland and I am confident that what we implement will be positive for agriculture, food production, and the environment.

“Of course, the choices we will have to make will be all the more difficult because of the indefensible budget situation negotiated for us by the UK Government. The reality is that Scotland is likely to have lower rates per hectare than every member state in Europe, which is why I am continuing to push for a fair deal for Scottish farmers from the UK’s internal CAP allocation.”

Considerations currently include:

  • How much coupled support should go to the Scottish beef sector. If Scotland’s coupled support ceiling is set at eight per cent, ‘serious consideration’ is being given to devoting the full allocation to beef.
  • Managing the transition from historic payments to area-based payments for those currently receiving high payments, such as some beef and dairy farmers, while ensuring hill farmers, new entrants and deer farmers receive appropriate support.
  • Having either two or three regions for the Pillar 1 Basic Payment scheme, in line with the emerging consensus.
  • Setting minimum activity levels in Scotland that keep out slipper farmers but provide support for genuine extensive hill farmers.
  • Taking into account the impact of greening on the arable sector, with judgement being reserved on the merits of setting up a Scottish-specific scheme – also known as an ‘equivalence’ scheme - especially in relation to carbon.
  • Arguments for and against degressivity – the system of reducing big farm payments – and whether additional measures will be needed in Scotland to address the issue of very large individual payments.

Notes to editors

CAP reform was debated in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday October 3, 2013. The motion read:

That the Parliament notes the importance of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for underpinning productive agriculture, delivering environmental and other public benefits and supporting rural development; notes that the EU reached an agreement on a new CAP and welcomes the Scottish Government’s success in negotiating provisions that meet Scotland’s needs on new entrants, active farming and increased flexibilities; looks forward to the Scottish Government’s future public consultations on implementing the new CAP in Scotland; notes that, as a member state, Scotland would have qualified for increased Pillar 1 payments worth €1 billion extra up to 2020 and been able to negotiate improved Pillar 2 rural funding; deplores the budget deal negotiated by the UK Government, which failed to address Scotland’s unacceptably low CAP funding, and calls on the UK Government to deliver a fair deal for Scotland through the UK’s allocation of CAP funds, including the full external convergence uplift to Scotland.

Copies of Mr Lochhead’s opening speech are available on request.