Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead has urged the EU to “be ambitious” in efforts to simplify the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) package.
Speaking ahead of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels, Mr Lochhead said the complexity of the new CAP was causing problems for Scottish farmers and crofters, which were mirrored in other member states.
MEPs will discuss simplification of the CAP at the meeting in Brussels on Monday (May 11).
The Scottish government previously announced a month’s extension to the deadline for farmers and crofters to submit their single application forms (SAFs), which must now be completed by 15 June, 2015. Up to Wednesday 6 May, 3,037 out of 21,000 eligible farmers had submitted their forms.
“The EU must be ambitious and ensure the CAP is simpler and more streamlined with food production at its core”
Across the EU, 15 other member states, including England, have extended been granted more time for farmers to submit their forms to allow them to get to grips with the new CAP.
The complexity of the application form, greening measures and excessive red tape are among the issues concerning farmers.
However, Wales and Northern Ireland are among the member states that are sticking with the 15 May deadline, leaving farmers just four days to submit and complete their forms.
“Reform is clearly and urgently needed – and this must take place from within Europe,” said Mr Lochhead.
“The EU must be ambitious and ensure the CAP is simpler and more streamlined with food production at its core.
“I am keen to see swift changes that make the system less complex – for example flexibility around greening, more proportionate penalties and reductions and a more simple process for approving rural development programmes – and I urge the UK government to work with the European Commission to deliver this.”