CAP update meeting set for Lauder next month

Picture by Stuart Cobley
Picture by Stuart Cobley

Union officials plan to meet with Borders farmers early next month, hopefully armed with the latest news on the implementation of CAP changes.

Farmers are increasingly frustrated by the lack of clear progress and the lack of information concerning the changes in support, said NFU Scotland’s chief executive Scott Walker at the union’s annual council meeting in Perth last week.

He said: “Now that the high level deal has been done at a European level, we need the Scottish Government to kick start the consultation process that will establish which of the options negotiated it will use.

“Feedback from our members underlines how frustrated they are about the lack of progress in this decision-making process.

“They are looking for greater clarity on key areas such as coupled payments in the beef sector; the pace of transition to new area payments for established businesses; new entrant support; equivalent greening measures and, most crucially, what level of support an individual farm business can expect to receive under the new CAP so that they can start making business decisions now.

“The bottom line is that the move to an area-based payment regime and a low budget per hectare doesn’t fit well with Scottish agriculture. The Scottish Government must pick up the pace as time is now getting short to develop a fix.

“We will be going round the country in December to talk to our members. For these meetings to deliver most benefit, we need the Scottish Government to have issued its consultation on its vision for new CAP arrangements in Scotland and the serious debate to have started.”

Land tenure and agricultural tenancies were also discussed.

Concerning land tenure, Mr Walker said: “Progress in this area has been slow, but some is being made.”

The issues for the union, he said, were land reform and who should own the land in Scotland, and how to ensure there is land available for farmers to rent on terms that are fair to everyone involved.

“Are legislative changes needed to secure tenancies to make them fit for purpose? Secondly, what changes are needed to ensure that we have the correct vehicle to encourage owners to rent out land that they don’t require for their own farming business?

“It also is important that clear timetables and remit for Richard Lochhead’s planned review of agricultural tenancies emerges shortly to avoid having the brakes applied to an issue where achieving progress is already challenging, “ said Mr Walker.

The union is also calling on farmers to put forward questions on Independence they would like NFUS to ask in advance of next year’s referendum.

The Borders CAP consultation meeting between members and union officials will be at The Lodge, Carfraemill on Tuesday, December 3.