Farming groups united in call for CAP flexibility

NFU Scotland has joined with 11 other farming organisations in urging their farming ministers to ensure that sufficient time and flexibility is built into the CAP Reform package to ensure the impact of change can be managed.

In Scotland, the key shift the reform will bring is the move from a historic-based support system to one that is area-based in the future.

Europe’s Agricultural Ministers are meeting in Luxembourg this week with CAP Reform proposals, scheduled to start in 2014, top of the agenda. Those discussions will include the issue of internal convergence of CAP direct payments, with Commission proposals aimed at providing a fairer distribution of payments both between and within Member States. Having that flexibility would be to Scotland’s advantage.

NFU Scotland, along with other farming organisations from Wales, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Denmark issued a joint statement. The statement was copied to Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, who is in Luxembourg.

It read: “The proposed swift mandatory convergence of direct support to a flat rate, be it on national, regional or sub-regional level, accelerated by the proposed flat rate of the greening scheme, threatens to destabilise the viability of certain sectors in certain regions and will bring along considerable speculation in the run up to the first allocation in 2014.

“Our farmers need sufficient room of manoeuvre and flexibility for evolution over time. Therefore, we argue for a gradual and adequate transitional period for any adjustments and oppose the overly sharp redistribution from the start of the transition.

“On this crucial point, we urge upon our ministers to incorporate the much needed flexibility and time for the internal convergence at Member State level. We ask for a feasible and practicable result that doesn’t threaten the viability of farmers in the short and medium term.”