Scottish Land & Estates, which represents more than 2,500 landowners, has today (Wednesday) said there are some encouraging aspects of initial CAP reform proposals – but only if pressure is maintained to safeguard Scotland’s interests.
Speaking at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Andrew Midgley, Senior Policy Officer at Scottish Land & Estates, told MSPs that CAP reform is required to ensure ongoing public support for Scotland’s farmers and rural communities is maintained but that there was a real need to ensure reforms are not too complex.
In its response to the call for evidence, Scottish Land & Estates have submitted several initial responses to the recent CAP reform proposals, including:
· Support for the introduction of a minimum activity criteria in the definition of agricultural activity.
· The alteration of the definition of ‘Permanent Grassland’ so that longer rotations will not be inadvertently caught.
· The 5% stipulation to be removed from the definition of an active farmer.
· The removal of the unnecessary restriction that those claiming in 2014 must have activated at least one entitlement in 2011. (It is unreasonable to those who have made arrangements to review land occupancy in 2012/13; it will create problems for new entrants and it will bring the new regime into disrepute the further we get from 2011.)
· The National Reserve to be more inclusive in terms of who might be eligible for support through that mechanism (in order to help those affected by the 2011 rule).
· Opposition to the introduction of a progressive cap.
· Retention of the flexibility mechanism that would allow funds to be transferred from Pillar I to Pillar II, but Scotland should not use the mechanism that would allow funds to be moved from Pillar II to Pillar I.
· Alterations to be made to greening measures so that they do not adversely affect Scottish farmers.
The full written evidence from Scottish Land & Estates can be viewed at www.scottishlandandestates.co.uk
Andrew Midgley, Senior Policy Officer at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Our initial response to the CAP reform proposals published so far is one of guarded optimism for the long process ahead. We are only in the opening stages of reform but we hope negotiations will produce a positive outcome for Scotland.
“Scottish Land & Estates is currently explaining to its members how the reforms may affect them, whilst also asking for their input on what objectives they want us to focus on - a key consideration in ensuring the voice of the frontline is heard in the months ahead.
“We fully expect negotiations to be a difficult balancing act to ensure that the positives in reform outweigh the negatives.”