Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead has blasted DEFRA’s approach to CAP reform as “simply not good enough”.
Mr Lochhead was speaking to journalists and meat industry leaders at a breakfast during the first day of the Royal Highland Show on Thursday (20 June).
With less than a week before a crunch EU meeting on CAP reform, Mr Lochhead said DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson needed to secure a better deal for Scottish farmers.
“I don’t believe the UK government will argue in the best interests of Scotland’s farmers,” said Mr Lochhead, ahead of next week’s Luxembourg meeting.
Scotland required a “much needed helping hand” from CAP reform, he added. This included getting a good deal on coupled support.
Most livestock producers agreed that Scotland needed the option of 15% coupled support – and the latest livestock figures endorsed this stance.
In 2011, 7895 livestock producers received support for 432,000 calves. But in 2012, the figures were down to 7,401 farmers claiming for 402,000 calves.
“This decline needs to be reversed,” said Mr Lochhead.
“That is why we need the UK government to argue hard for the same level of support as other country’s and what Scotland is seeking.”
Mr Lochhead said he had sent Mr Paterson details of the Scottish calf scheme and the decline of livestock numbers to “help his understanding” of its importance to Scotland.
“It’s simply not good enough for Owen Paterson to start at wanting no coupling – despite Scotland’s views – and only moving to reluctantly supporting 5% when he realises he is fighting a losing battle with other states.”
Mr Lochhead accused Mr Paterson of raising the issue of sugar quotas in EU council meetings more often than issues surrounding Scotland’s livestock sector.
“Last time I checked, beef and lamb was more important to Scotland than sugar,” said Mr Lochhead.
Mr Paterson is expected to respond to the criticism when he visits the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston on Friday (21 June).
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