As Scotland’s farmers get their heads around the new CAP regime and prepare their SAF submissions, Scottish Land & Estates is urging all farmers to work together to make sure that Scottish agriculture as a whole is the winner from the new regime.
The cancelling of old Single Farm Payment entitlements and the allocation of new Basic Payment Scheme entitlements represents a key moment in the CAP cycle and many businesses will be looking at the way they operate and positioning themselves accordingly. This means that the new regime will inevitably usher in a period of change.
One particular concern this year revolves around the availability of seasonal grazing. There are concerns that landowners will be able to claim the entitlements with the result that there could be restricted seasonal grazing, and a distorted market as a result, and that graziers will also feel the affect by being prevented from claiming the entitlements themselves.
In response to these issues, David Johnstone, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “We should avoid any simple portrayal of issues around seasonal grazing as allowing a new slipper farming problem. This issue is an artefact of the new regime and is not simply a traditional landowner-tenant issue. Many farmers let ground to other farmers and will be looking anew at their arrangements, indeed our members are farmers themselves and while many will let land out to others, many also rent ground in as part of their operation.
“The best way forward is to recognise that the new CAP regime will usher in a period of change—change which we have been sheltered from for 10 years by delaying the move to area payments until now—and that the best way to deal with this change is for all parties to work together to find a result that works for everyone involved.
“We understand the desire from some to tighten up the activity requirements, but would suggest that that there is already considerable uncertainty over the operation of the new scheme. We would not recommend further changes at this late stage as that will add further uncertainty. We would therefore urge all parties to discuss this year’s grazing arrangements with each other and try to minimise disruption to individual businesses.
“We would also hope that the market for seasonal lets quickly reflects any changes that take place in terms of who the claimant is. If a grazier is unable to claim on the ground being rented in then the price for the grazing should reflect that situation.
“It is also worth noting that this situation is being driven, at least in part, by the siphon of transfers of entitlements without land. This would mean that if a grazier claimed this year and then transferred entitlements to the landowner at the end of the lease, half the value is lost to the National Reserve. As such, people are simply working within the system in the best way they can. It is the system that creates the problem and is not an opportunist subsidy grab.”