The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee has written to the Scottish Government to set out its thinking on the CAP following several sessions with stakeholders and Ministers.
Their broad conclusions are:
It is clear that a debate needs to take place in Scotland outwith the specifics on the implementation of the CAP and SRDP programmes in the short-to-medium term, which focusses on issues such as: what is Scotland trying to achieve with both pillar 1 and pillar 2 support?; and, is funding the CAP at existing levels sustainable in the long-term? It may be of great benefit to future generations of farmers, crofters and land managers in Scotland if that debate took place sooner rather than later, in order to be able to best plan for the future.
In terms of evidence given to the Committee on how best to implement the new CAP in Scotland,
- the Committee hopes that the UK Government’s planned review of funding takes place at the earliest possible opportunity, and certainly no later than 2017;
- The Committee recognises concerns raised about the consequences of having two payment regions in Scotland and recommends consideration of establishing a third payment region, depending on decisions taken on coupled support.
- Whilst steps should be taken to ensure greening measures do not have a detrimental effect on certain intensive sectors, it is imperative that farmers, crofters and land managers step up to the plate and ensure that farms and crofts in Scotland become greener. The Committee recommends that the Scottish Government seeks to implement a requirement for every farm and croft in Scotland in receipt of CAP funding to complete a simple carbon audit within this period of the CAP.
- With regard to the SRDP, the Committee recommends that the Scottish Government retains the current Crofting Counties Agricultural Grants Scheme for crofts only and considers a separate Scotland wide small farm scheme.
- It is essential that the often confusing processes of the last SRDP are simplified and that the schemes, and the application, assessment and approval processes for those schemes, are clearly set out and understandable, and then regularly monitored and reviewed. Although funds are limited, the SRDP needs to be stimulating transformational change in our rural communities, and targeted at those who are best placed to deliver that transformational change.