Further details of how the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be implemented in Scotland have been set out by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
Mr Lochhead has revealed how the Scottish Government intends to:
- use flexibilities won in Europe on the National Reserve to benefit farmers frozen out under the old CAP, who will receive basic payments at the regional average from day one of the new system.
- provide the best possible support for Young Farmers (defined by Europe as being no more than 40 years of age in the year of application) by choosing to pay basic payment top-ups on the maximum number of hectares allowed by European regulations, and in such a way as to maximise these top-up payments
- take action to put an end to so-called ‘slipper farming’ through implementing the Scottish clause on minimum activity rules. These will require active management on all rough grazing land – the type of land used in the past for slipper farming – if it is to qualify for CAP payments. In the case of active management by grazing, there will be a choice of meeting a minimum stocking density or undertaking other annual activities
- further limit slipper farmers by opting for the windfall profit clause, which stops historic payments from being temporarily maintained on a new, smaller area of eligible land, and the siphon on the sale of entitlements without land, which should discourage the trading of entitlements for the purpose of subsidy-chasing by reducing their value.
- publish information on the likely payment rates for the new Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) on the Scottish Government website. The SRDP is currently with EU for approval, and a further update is expected later this year.
Minimum Activity - The Scottish clause/minimum activity rules are likely to be:
- Farmers with agricultural land that is maintained in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation will need to take steps to control weeds and vegetation on this kind of land.
- Farmers with agricultural land that is naturally in a state that is suitable for grazing or cultivation will need to be sure that they either meet a minimum stocking density of 0.05LU/ha on this kind of land or that they undertake an agricultural activity plan including at least two activity options from a list of possible activities:
- Presence of domestic grazing animals for more than 183 days;
- Having an up to date animal health plan;
- Cutting within a multiannual regime where appropriate for environmental reasons;
- Maintaining livestock handling facilities;
- Membership of a farm assurance scheme.
National Reserve - There will be three categories under the National Reserve.
- Category 1 will be for new entrants and young farmers who start farming in 2013 or later who will be able to apply to the National Reserve for entitlements to Basic Payments.
- Category 2 will be for farmers who were not allocated entitlements to the Single Farm Payment or who were only allocated SFP entitlements through the New Entrant or Investor categories of the previous National Reserve in 2005. These farmers will be eligible to apply directly for entitlements to the new Basic Payments, however since these entitlements may initially be of low value the National Reserve option to top up the value of these entitlements to the regional average value will be used from day one.
- Category 3 of the new National Reserve will cover farmers who have been subject to Force Majeure.
The National Reserve exercise can be repeated in future years to ensure that the new entrants of the future do not suffer from being frozen out.