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EU Seminar Spells Out Common Agricultural Policy Reform Risks

29 June 2012

UK - A European Parliament seminar has outlined how reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the switch to area-based payments has the potential to generate significant redistribution across all Scottish farming sectors.

NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops committee chairman, Andrew Moir attended today’s seminar in Brussels, entitled: "The New CAP – Winners and Losers in the Switch from Historic to Area Based Payments". The seminar included speakers from England and Germany – where the shift to an area-based support system has already been introduced.

Speaking after the seminar, Mr Moir said: "It is in the interests of both our arable and livestock sectors that we ensure that the future SFP provides the stable framework needed to develop the whole of the Scottish agricultural industry. Both are essential to growing the food and drinks industry in Scotland.

"We recognise that the way in which the Single Farm Payment (SFP) is paid out to farmers in Scotland has to change. The reality is that Scotland will have to move from an individual historic reference based support system to an area-based system but that shift must be manageable.

"The experiences shared by other Member States who have gone down the area-based route already shows that the system must be managed if we are to avoid significant transfers of support from the most productive areas to the least productive farmers.

"Today’s presentations underlined the importance of managing the transition – an issue on which we wrote to our Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead about last week. The CAP Reform proposals, as they stand, would require Scotland to move to an area-based system in five years with much of that move front loaded in year 1. It is clear from discussions today that such a timeframe for change is inappropriate and has the potential to be hugely damaging and disruptive.

"A minimum transition period of eight to ten years, with a gradual adjustment - such as was applied in England and Germany - is necessary to ensure that the businesses that will be most dramatically affected have a level of certainty and stability.

"One of the benefits of these seminars is who you meet in the margins. I welcomed the opportunity to raise with commission officials many of the other issues our growers have with CAP Reform plans – not least proposals around greening and the impracticalities of a three-crop rule being applied to Scotland."

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