In the new Euro-landscape, size does matter

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Size can count against you as the majority of Scottish farmers will find out later this year following a decision by the European Parliament to exempt all farmers receiving less than €5,000 annually from a 5 per cent cut in support.

This decision which will see four out of five European small scale farmers escape the cut in subsidy while, much to the annoyance of NFU Scotland and Scottish MEPs, the majority of larger-scale Scottish farmers will have to take a 5 per cent hit.

Union spokesman Bob Carruth said: “The common agricultural policy should be truly ‘common’ – all those who benefit from its support should also share equally in the pain that financial discipline will bring.”

The penalty has been introduced because, for the first time, the EU budget for direct support exceeds the available funds.

Although the exact percentage of the levy remains dependent on the outcome of the budget negotiations which will determine the 2014 budget ceilings, it is likely to be in the region of 5 per cent.

The cut is also necessary to finance the new “Crisis Reserve” being set up by the EU to pay for compensation for agricultural disasters over the 2014-2020 period.

Alyn Smith MEP, pictured expressed his regret at the “flawed” decision.

“The vote violates a fundamental principle of fairness. These sorts of unforeseen burdens should be shared equally across the agricultural community in Europe,” he said.

His fellow MEP George Lyon agreed, saying: “The principle for any reduction should be that all EU farmers regardless of farm size shoulder the financial pain.

“This vote unfairly discriminates against farmers in Scotland and UK where average farms are larger than in other member states.”

ANDREW ARBUCKLE