After talks on the CAP in Luxembourg this week, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead highlighted some of the things he is arguing for on Scottish farmers’ behalf.
Mr Lochhead is arguing that the speed at which change is implemented through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms should be flexible and linked to impact.
The pace of transition towards area payments is important with many concerned about a very large jump in the first year of the new scheme and Mr Lochhead said: "If we can ensure new entrants are given a level playing field in terms of support from day one, then the transition for the wider industry does not have to happen overnight if this is deemed to be too disruptive. But it should not drag on for too long either."
He also stressed that Member States need flexibility to use a range of tools so as to manage the process as best fits their needs.
He emphasised that coupled support was one of those tools in Scotland and he expressed concern that the UK Government continue to adopt a line on coupled payments that does not represent our position. On coupled payments he said: “we must have the option to go to at least 10 per cent coupling, and have a level playing field between Member States. Coupled payments would be one top up payment for livestock producers that would help mitigate the impact of moving to area payments for active farmers. Unfortunately, the UK Government continue to push for coupling to be minimised with a 5 per cent ceiling which would limit our options and potentially our ambition to maintain a viable livestock sector which is far more important to Scotland than the rest of the UK. It is very frustrating that Scotland has to devote so much energy on getting our message across to the UK Government never mind the rest of Europe and the Commission."