Pack Report Drives CAP Debate

SCOTLAND, UK - A new report suggests that ongoing direct support of agriculture and food production in Scotland is important for food security. The report also suggests that future agricultural support should include a top-up fund, rural development programme funding and Less Favoured Area (LFA) support.
calendar icon 22 January 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The report has been welcomed by the National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland as an excellant start point for stimulating debate.

The initial report, produced by leading industry expert Brian Pack and his inquiry team, was published yesterday (Thursday, 21 January). The inquiry team will be attending a number of public meetings around the country in the coming weeks to discuss its proposals and a final report is expected to be presented to the Scottish Government in late spring.

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren said: “The document achieves its primary aim of stimulating discussion throughout our industry on how we want crucial funding to be delivered following the forthcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Discussions on the shape of the CAP post-2013 are already underway and we welcome the report’s assertion that there should be no major change in policy until we know the direction in which the rest of the EU is travelling.

“The report makes a strong case for the ongoing direct support of agriculture and food production. It recognises that the industry is unique in being of strategic importance to the country; an importance that will only become more significant as food security grows in prominence. Without direct support, the report acknowledges that ongoing market failure would leave the country's food and drinks supply vulnerable and undermine the environmental and social benefits of the industry. The need for Europe to recognise this by protecting agricultural spending through the CAP is key.

“The model discussed in the report of an area-based payment with a top-up fund fits well with our own recommendations to the inquiry. A base payment focussed on productivity, but with other funds directly connected to achieving specific outcomes makes the case very clearly to the taxpayer for ongoing support.

“There are many other issues highlighted within the report, including the future eligibility of land for support and whether this will extend to other land use sectors, such as forestry, which were not previously supported. Similarly, our members will have their views on whether changes to support should be introduced gradually or whether a transition period should be rejected in favour of a short or zero lead in time post-2013.

“The Article 68 suggestions, based around top slicing all support payments to fund specific livestock options, sparked fiery debate last year. In June, Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead ruled out similar measures in favour of increased support through the LFA system, with higher payment rates starting this year. A decision to use Article 68 would require the clearing of a series of hurdles, may not be achievable until 2012 – only a year before the CAP is rewritten – and could be divisive. We will talk this through again with our own members, many of whom are in sectors that are already struggling, and would crucially be the funders rather than the beneficiaries under such proposals.

“Such issues will provide fuel for debate over the coming weeks and months as Brian and his team head round the country and complete their report and I would encourage every one of our members to make the effort to attend one of the forthcoming Inquiry meetings. Overall, the report does what it says on the tin. It analyses very well the competing pressures and really fires the starting gun on the more intense, detailed debate. In some ways, the real work in establishing a Scottish position has only just begun.”

To find out about the public meeting click here.

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