A CALL for Brian Pack to be brought back into harness and update his report on how the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy should progress to Scotland’s benefit gathered pace during the day yesterday but was rejected last night by the Scottish Government.
NFU Scotland president, Nigel Miller said that, following a recommendation from his board of directors last week, he had both met the Scottish Government and Pack with a view of refreshing the paper prepared back in 2010 prior to the European Commission’s proposals being published.
The idea of updating the work was first floated by George Lyon MEP, who pointed out that it would be wise to see how the commission’s proposals could best be turned to Scotland’s advantage.
Yesterday Lyon emphasised how vital it was now the CAP reform process was under way that “we keep on top of recent developments in Scotland”.
“We need a sequel to the Pack Inquiry,” he said
Miller also referred to recent moves in CAP thinking, with this week’s changes to the environmental proposals being a case in point.
“The challenge for Scotland is to find a support model that will deliver a potentially crude and destructive area-based system across a wide range of farming types and diverse levels of activity,” he said.
“We need fresh figures looking at how different payment rates may impact on different regions and that will require the Scottish Government to allocate a level of resource to have that work done.
Miller also pointed to the “clear divide” between Scotland and the UK government on the value of retaining an element of direct support through headage payments.
“It is essential for Scotland to be clear on the benefits of this potential support tool if our priorities are to be recognised in Brussels. That would also benefit from further work.”
He warned that while the whole reform was complex, the reality was that Scotland needed to put itself in a position to argue its own case when the final phase of negotiations on CAP Reform began.
Last night a Scottish Government spokeswoman admitted the Pack Inquiry had been invaluable in helping establish the possible implications of moving to an area base for payments.
But she added that there would be another round public engagement, including a second consultation on implementation of the CAP in Scotland.
She was confident that that would ensure the needs of Scotland’s farmers were well represented in fighting for a fair deal in Brussels and West- minster.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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