Scottish Land & Estates issued a statement following the CAP announcement. Scottish Land & Estates fully supports efforts to ensure that the support goes to active farmers and so supports many of the measures being brought forward, but has concerns about the blanket exclusion of sporting estates, many of which undertake legitimate farming operations.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Scottish farmers have been seeking clarity and now everyone will be able to start planning for the future with a little more certainty.
“The Cabinet Secretary faced some very difficult decisions in seeking to bring forward a package of measures that works best for the industry as a whole and we recognise that.
“In particular, Scottish Land & Estates is fully supportive of efforts to ensure that the support goes to active farmers. Our members tell us that they don’t want to see large amounts of money that is meant to support farming going to people who are not farming, so we are strongly supportive of the government in its efforts to prevent another slipper farmer issue.
“The proposal to split the Rough Grazing region is something that we support and have called for because it is a way of ensuring that large amounts of public money is not transferred to the poorest land.
“While coupled support, especially on sheep, could introduce its own administrative issues, it does at least focus support on active farmers. It will be important to make sure that the scheme introduced is workable.
“On the proposal to put ‘sporting estates’ on the negative list, thereby excluding them from support, Scottish Land & Estates will be seeking clarification about what the government is actually suggesting. We support the idea that those people who are not farming should not receive support, but many estates are actually integrated businesses running farming and sporting enterprises in parallel and it will be very important to avoid excluding legitimate farming activity from support simply because it is associated with wider sporting activity.
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s efforts to make sure that greening delivers additional environmental gain whilst remaining workable for the industry.
“The issue around the degree to which there should be a transition to area payments has prompted diverse opinions within Scottish Land & Estates. Some wanted an immediate jump, but we have advocated a longer transition in order to allow businesses time to adjust, so we welcome the proposal for a longer phase-in especially given the additional support for new entrants.
“The proposal to limit the area claimed to 2013 is, we believe, misplaced in that it is portrayed as an anti-landowner measure to stop landowners manipulating tenancies for ‘unfair gain’. We believe that this focus could adversely affect farm businesses that have already legitimately changed their business arrangements.
“Scottish Land & Estates will continue to work with Scottish Government to make sure that the whole package works for the whole of Scottish farming."