This week saw the Scottish Government announce that despite the intention of getting the next SRDP signed off quickly by the European Commission, it looks like the next Programme will not be formally approved until next summer.
In order to avoid too much of a hiatus the Scottish Government will be opening for applications (for the agri-environment part of the programme) in March, but contracts are unlikely to be issued until the Autumn.
The timetable for the SRDP 2015-2020 is as follows:
- LFASS: Applications submitted and assessed through Single Application Form in May 2015 as part of the usual CAP claim system, with payments being made in spring 2016.
- Agri-environment: Will open in March 2015 with contracts likely to issue in autumn 2015. To safeguard key habitats and species, some priority multi-annual agri-environment contracts due to expire in 2014 are being renewed.
- Forestry: Open to applications from March 2015, and these submitted and assessed as normal with contracts and payments issuing after SRDP approval.
- Food and Drink: Open it to applications on March 1, 2015 and look to issue contracts and payments as soon as possible.
- Farm capital investment schemes (crofters, small farmers and new entrants): Open to applications in January 2015 due to some of these investments being linked to young farmers, who have an age cut-off which obliges applicants to submit their application for support prior to their 41st birthday.
- Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF) and Environmental Cooperative Action Fund: Will likely open to applications in early 2015, with contracts issued after SRDP approval
- LEADER: Local Action Groups (LAGs) will be able to commence work to develop projects with partners for consideration and approval from spring 2015 onwards.
- Scottish Rural Network: Is ongoing and will continue during the SRDP approval process.
- Beef Efficiency Scheme: Will launch in 2016.
- Advisory Service: Will launch in 2016.
- Broadband fund:Opening in spring 2015, delivered by Community Broadband Scotland as part of a wider package of support.
SRDP scheme guidance is available from the Scottish Government website: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/farmingrural/SRDP/SRDP20142020Schemes
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“Scotland’s rural development programme provides crucial support for Scottish farming, food production, rural communities and the environment, and is worth £1.3 billion over the next six years. However the European sign-off process is proving disappointingly slow, with only three out of 118 rural development programmes across the whole of Europe agreed so far and the new SRDP now not expected to be formally approved until next summer.
“To avoid any unnecessary delay or disruption to payments I have decided to get the ball rolling and begin accepting applications to various SRDP schemes early in 2015, so that the Scottish Government is ready to pay out at the earliest opportunity once the programme is approved. Although our transition arrangements will prevent this delay from having much impact, clearly this is far from ideal. It is yet another example of the difficulties we are facing because of the challenging European timetable and delays in getting advice from EU officials about the fine detail of this new, more complex CAP. It is important to point out that the sticking points are detailed technical measures and not the big CAP policy decisions I took in June. However, the uncertainty caused by repeated Commission requests to change our plans is disruptive for both farmers and administrations. It underlines the need to be able to review and amend the implementation detail in the next year or two, and I have written to the new Agricultural Commissioner both to draw attention to this unhelpful uncertainty and to press the review point.”