NFU Scotland’s new president, Nigel Miller, has used his first formal meeting with Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, to map out the Union’s views and concerns around the planned reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Mr Miller also used the meeting in the Scottish Parlia-ment to make the point that any new support scheme must be accompanied by a substantially more proportionate penalty system.
Speaking from Holyrood, Mr Miller said: “The investigation into future support arrangements for Scotland, carried out by Brian Pack on behalf of the Scottish Government, has put Scotland ahead of the rest of Europe in mapping out what the nation’s farmers require to emerge from the CAP reform discussions. Those discussions will continue over the coming months and years and we must capitalise on the momentum.
“The principles outlined in the Pack Report are good and highlight the need and justification for continued funding being targeted at those actively involved in farming here in Scotland. Where question marks remain, is over the best model for delivering that funding in Scotland and whether the LFA/non-LFA approach, as proposed in Pack, is correct. To ensure we have a grasp of what our members are thinking, we have launched a questionnaire this week on the future direction of the Single Farm Payment. We have already looked at and considered several models for delivering support but no one model has been universally supported.
“The questionnaire also tackles the emerging European question about the ‘greening’ of CAP and support payments and whether higher environmental standards should be driven through direct support payments – Pillar One – or through rural development – Pillar Two. The more immediate worry for them is that any attempts to ramp up environmental requirements, whether Pillar One or Pillar Two, will come with a greater level of cross- compliance and inspection.
“One condition of agreeing to new greening measures must be a revised penalty system – or it will be difficult to get industry buy-in. The existing inspection and penalty requirements around SFP are already responsible for a culture of fear.
“Any inspection system must focus on outcomes and penalties properly recognise the difference between those acting illegally and those who have made a genuine mistake.’’