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NFUS put seasonal lets and contract farming in firing line

NFUS has written to Richard Lochhead this week asking him to find a way of ‘firming up on activity criteria’. 
In a letter to Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, the Union asks Scottish Government to consider additional measures to ensure that those contributing nothing or very little to Scotland’s production are not in a position to draw down direct support from the new area-based Basic Payment Scheme.
NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:
“We harbour concerns that two groups of inactive players may find themselves in a position to draw down direct agricultural support and move some of our very limited direct support budget away from productive agriculture.  
“The first category is those that can easily fit with requirements of simply maintaining Region 1 land in a state which makes it suitable for agricultural production.  This also has the potential to remove good quality land and opportunity from would-be new entrants, expanding businesses and active production. 
“The second category is those that use areas of Region 1 land to activate claims and draw down the associated direct support, but through contract or seasonal lets use others to deliver the agricultural activity.  
“The Union believes that additional barriers must be created to avoid negative impacts.  Placing meaningful obligations on those that choose a maintenance approach for Region 1 land, rather than active farming, is important.  
“Simply keeping our better land in maintenance mode rather than active production would fail to deliver for the rural economy, rural communities or the food and drink agenda.  Therefore, a declaration within the IACS claim for BPS and greening should be used to identify those that claim under the maintenance option.  
“At the mid-term review of these CAP reforms, it might be possible to move non-active Region 1 land to a lower rate of support with the money saved moving to the Pillar 2 budget.  
“For those that contract out land or create grazing lets on a seasonal basis while drawing down BPS and greening payments, the core obligations of farming should apply.  Any and all greening and cross-compliance obligations should lie with those claiming the direct support payment”.  
“In addition, across all Scottish farmland, there should be obligations to maintain farm infrastructure such as fencing, livestock handling facilities, gates and buildings to recognised farm assurance standards.  This is essential to safeguard future production potential.”

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