CAP uncertainties still haunt Scotland’s farmers

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Although the main framework of the next common agricultural policy (CAP) has been set in place, NFU Scotland this week expressed its concern over the uncertainties which still surround the deal.

According to the union, the uncertainty is contributing to a number of Scottish farmers considering changes to their set-up or postponing key business decisions.

The union’s director of policy, Jonnie Hall, said that, while the detail on CAP implementation in Scotland was firming up, the process needed to gather momentum to bring to an end the uncertainty and allow businesses to make plans for the future

“Our priorities on CAP reform from day one remain solid,” he said. “Direct support has to be targeted at active farming and productive farm businesses. That means Scotland has to implement the move to area-based support in a way that recognises the productivity of Scotland’s wide and varied agricultural land.”

Hall said the union was likely to support options on a transition period to area-based support to allow businesses time to adjust.

“On the greening element to support payments,” he said, “grassland farmers should have little to fear from the CAP deal but there is still a lot to do in establishing practical and sensible equivalence measures acceptable to those who grow crops in Scotland.

“With a limited budget, it’s also essential to look at tools to target support to active but vulnerable producers. Coupled payments for beef calves draws funding to those largely farming on improved and improvable grassland but helps protect the area payments on our better land.

“Given the huge area of rough grazing in Scotland, and its inherent variability, it’s also pretty clear we need apply a low area payment to such land to avoid blowing the budget.”