Scotland’s arable growers want bigger slice of CAP

Scotland’s arable growers have appealed to the Scottish government for a bigger slice of direct support when it comes to implementation of the reformed CAP package.

The growers fear that the new CAP regime will put them at a further competitive disadvantage to their counterparts across the UK and Europe and they feel they are struggling to have their voices heard above those in the livestock and hill farming sectors.

While the arable producers concede that they make up a smaller part of Scotland’s geographical area, the growers said they “punch above their weight” in production and economic terms.

NFU Scotland said it shared the concerns of many in the sector and has written to rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead, stating that the role of direct support for these growers had become even more important at a time when climatic and market volatility was becoming more extreme,

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In his letter the union’s president Nigel Miller said it was becoming much clearer that Scotland’s greening responsibility would largely fall on cereals land and areas growing potatoes, vegetables and other crops. He claimed the impact of crop diversification rules and Ecological Focus Areas (EFA) would be challenging for a significant number, creating complexity and compliance issues that could only add to managerial and financial costs.

“Mr Miller added: “The cropping sector is key to Scotland’s rural and food economy. Post 2015 however, the sector will be operating on a support platform which will place it at a disadvantage compared with the arable regions of northern Europe and other UK arable areas. That disadvantage will compromise the ability of the Scottish cropping sector to invest or to ride out inevitable climatic and market volatility.

“If Scotland’s producers are to close the gap on their counterparts south of the border, and so erode the competitive disadvantage, then the budget share going into arable, temporary grass and improved grass region has to push Scotland’s arable farmers towards parity, with payments needing to head towards €250/ha or more.

“In addition, the CAP greening requirements fit badly with Scotland’s environmental priorities, while also constraining spring barley production and reducing Scotland’s cropping potential. The failure of European greening to fit must not prompt gold-plating of implementation standards.”