Carfraemill meeting to air concerns over CAP

Nigel Miller NFU
Nigel Miller NFU

NFU Scotland is holding meetings with farmers on the CAP while calling on the Scottish Government to be transparent about its plans for transition and the national reserve.

Officials and leaders meet Borders farmers at The Lodge, Carfraemill, on Tuesday (November 18) for two-way communication with local producers before pushing for modifications before the European Union deadline.

Speaking before Tuesday’s meeting, NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller, Stagehall, Stow said: “Each week brings us closer to the new package of Pillar 1 support for farm businesses. Producers will be required to apply to the 2015 Scheme year in May of next year but, at this late stage, many producers remain unable to make crucial business decisions because of the lack of detail.

“It is now vital that Scottish Government officials operate in a more transparent manner. They must share the fundamentals of the reform options that are increasingly certain to be implemented.

“For established businesses, the impacts of the transition process to 2019, as announced by the Cabinet Secretary in June, have to be made clear.

“We understand that the Scottish Government’s original transition plan has been rejected by the European Commission and a new formula has been developed behind closed doors.

“That new formula, as well as the earlier transition models, must be shared so that any implications around the intended ‘soft landing’ for businesses are fully understood. Any transition approach that front loads extreme change into Year 1 could effectively create a cliff edge for some businesses.

“Richard Lochhead’s commitment to Scotland’s new generation of farmers is well known and appreciated. NFU Scotland has been clear that it believes that the National Reserve, which may have to be extended, should support those disadvantaged by both the 2005 CAP Reform and the historic reference period 2000-2002.

New entrants and developers need to know now how the categories within the new National Reserve are to be defined in order to understand the levels of support they are likely to receive from 2015 onwards.

Meanwhile, earlier this week 138 Border farmers had already contacted the Galashiels Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) office with concerns about how their land is being registered (for CAP changes).

NFU Scotland regional manager Kerry Barr said: “A lot of permanent grass (region 1) seems to be appearing on these letters (notifying the land classification) as rough grazing (region 2), or in some cases land is missed out altogether.

“It is vital that this information is correct as it will affect farmers’ future payments.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said any farmers or crofters concerned about their land classification have to request a review within 60 days from the date of the letter notifying them and provide evidence as to why the land has been wrongly classified. Kerry said she, colleagues and head office had taken ‘lots of calls’ on the issue. Tuesday’s CAP meeting starts at 7.30pm.