NFU Scotland is adamant that the precious funding available through Scotland’s future Pillar 1 regime must be focussed on activity driven support.
In its submission to the Scottish Government’s consultation on future CAP direct payments in Scotland from 2015, NFUS states that its overarching aim is to correct as far as possible the injustices of the current historic system while ensuring the new area-based system targets support as efficiently as possible.
The submission recognises that direct support funding will be limited - effectively cut by up to 20 per cent through decisions taken by the EU, the UK Government and the Scottish Government. Therefore, while setting out with the ambition of driving as good a deal for all recipients, protecting Scottish agriculture or sheltering any sector or farm type from a support shortfall will be very difficult.
The Union believes extreme changes, however, can be avoided if the right decisions on Pillar 1 implementation are taken by the Scottish Government.
Together with a complementary Pillar 2 (rural development) package, the direct support made available must enable all active farms and crofts- whether a new, developing or established business - to prepare for the challenges ahead.
Commenting on the key points in NFU Scotland’s 38-page submission, President Nigel Miller said:
“There is an urgent need for a new level of ambition from the Scottish Government for our food and farming sectors. That requires the strength to take tough decisions if the legacy of the current CAP reform is to be positive for the Scottish rural economy.
“The Union’s response to the Government’s CAP consultation runs to more than 270 clauses but its main thrust is to target support to activity and close down slipper farming.
“Scotland must use whatever means are at its disposal to ensure that precious, limited support is used solely to underpin activity and the retention of those farms and crofts delivering for the economy, the environment and rural communities.
“While those funds are limited, the new Pillar 1 set up in Scotland must be driven by an intention to deliver for all sectors and all regions, and must address the needs of new entrants, crofters and established farm businesses.”