As published in the Press & Journal on 14 June 2014
“Scottish Land & Estates is fully supportive of efforts to ensure that the support goes to active farmers and the last thing the industry needs is another slipper farmer issue.
“There are a number of measures in the package we support including the proposal to split the Rough Grazing region which is a way of ensuring that large amounts of public money is not transferred to the poorest land.
“Coupled support, especially on sheep, could introduce its own administrative issues, but it does at least focus support on active farmers.
“However, we are concerned about the degree of separation that is being made between estate owners and farmers. On the proposal to put ‘sporting estates’ on the negative list, thereby excluding them from support, we 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.
“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 various types of farm businesses that have already legitimately changed their business arrangements.
“The overwhelming majority of our members are farmers themselves and it is important to them that they are recognised as working in farming on a daily basis.
“Scottish Land & Estates remains committed to working with Scottish Government and stakeholders as they seek to iron out the detail of the proposals to make sure that the package of measures works for the whole industry.”
By David Johnstone, Chairman Scottish Land & Estates