New proposals from the Scottish Government to ensure only active farmers can receive direct support under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have been welcomed by local SNP MSP Adam Ingram.
Under the plans, farmers would have to keep livestock at an appropriate level linked to the carrying capacity of their land, or demonstrate significant active efforts every year to maintain agricultural land in good condition.
The new proposals to tackle so-called slipper farming, which the Scottish Government is confident meets EU and WTO rules, have been shared with industry groups at a meeting last week.
Commenting on the proposals Mr Ingram said: “Slipper farming is a blight on Scottish agriculture and we need to take action to ensure only active farmers are supported under the new CAP.
“The issue of slipper farming is a particular concern in Scotland where we have around a million hectares of wild land where no farming activity whatsoever is taking place but could qualify for new direct payments in 2015 unless action is taken in Europe.
“We need a meaningful and workable way of implementing the Scottish clause if we are to prevent a significant dilution of payments to genuinely active farmers and a waste of millions of euros of CAP money. Clearly, reducing support for inactivity means more funding will be available for productive farmers.
“I am confident that in having more than one criterion for defining active farming, the Scottish Government has found a solution which meets World Trade Organisation rules. The package proposed has received positive
feedback from stakeholders and the next step is to take this proposal to Europe at the earliest opportunity to ensure the proposal is on a firm legal footing.”