This week saw Richard Lochhead in Brussels seeking clarification on some key CAP reform implementation issues, the biggest of which related to Scotland’s ability to introduce minimum activity requirements in those areas that are naturally maintained in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation. The draft Delegated Acts that have been emerging from Brussels in recent months suggested that setting minimum stocking densities was not possible, which left the Scottish Government with a real difficulty in terms of identifying other measurable criteria that would ensure that support only goes to those actively farming.
Scottish Government has been working on a solution that satisfied the Commission’s concerns about apparently re-coupling support and Mr Lochhead sought confirmation from Commissioner Ciolos that the Scottish plans were acceptable under the proposed new rules. Mr Ciolos apparently gave the green light, which allows the Scottish Government to move forward knowing that it has a mechanism that will exclude areas that are not being farmed.
Speaking immediately after the meeting with Commissioner Ciolos, Mr Lochhead said: “It is good news for all the hard working farmers in Scotland that the EU have given their backing to our plan to stamp out slipper farming. Under our plans, land on which there is no activity will be ineligible for payments under the new CAP from 2015. It has been a priority for us to ensure that only active farmers benefit and we have worked hard to find a solution. Scottish Government officials will now work with the Commission to confirm the final details.”