England’s approach to farm support is out of step with mainstream Europe, according to Scotland’s rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead.

Speaking to farmers at a Christmas Carcass competition at Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Mr Lochhead emphasised the deep divide between the agricultural policies of England and Scotland.

“My opinion on CAP reform is very different from DEFRA’s view that all direct subsidies should be removed and we should rely on a free market,” Mr Lochhead said.

“Scotland should not go down that route and our thinking is much closer to the mainstream of Europe which is that the pendulum is swinging back towards support for active agriculture.

“The outgoing commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel didn’t envisage that pendulum going too far and ruled out headage payments but it remains to be seen how the new commissioner Dacian Ciolos will view the link between support and activity.

“Time will tell if there is going to be a revolution in European Agricultural Policy as a result of this appointment.”