Last week, European Union agricultural commissioner Dacian Ciolos made clear his continued support for Less Favoured Areas, but he also was insistent that he wanted to see a simplification of the current mish-mash of qualifying conditions that sees more than 100 differing conditions operating in the various member states.
Yesterday, however, at the agricultural council meeting in Brussels, minister after minister made it clear that such a move could not be contemplated in the current timescale for the reform of the common agricultural policy.
But for Scotland’s rural affairs minister, Richard Lochhead, the important issue was not in the timing but in getting it correct. He said the proposal for “fine-tuning” the replacement scheme, where the designated land would be called Areas of Natural Constraint, needed greater flexibility.
Getting the new designations correct was vitally important to Scotland, where 85 per cent of land being farmed is currently covered by the LFA support scheme. “It is essential there is enough flexibility in the fine-tuning exercise for the new ANC to make sure Scotland’s farmers get a correct and fair result,” said Lochhead.
“Our criteria are very close to what the commission now propose, but their current plans for fine-tuning could lead to some genuine cases in Scotland missing out. We cannot allow that to happen, therefore I have been pressing the UK government today to put pressure on the commission to ensure we get the flexibility we need.
“I have also been pushing hard to make sure that until a new system is in place, which will not be for several years, the EU allows continuity of the existing LFASS payments in any interim period. It is essential there is no gap in payments.”
The meeting in Brussels also saw Owen Paterson, the newly-appointed Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, food and rural affairs, make his first appearance in Europe. After the meeting, Lochhead said he was pleased to get an early meeting with the new UK minister to highlight key areas of the CAP where Scottish priorities differ from the UK.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South