Angry Scottish farmers have tackled rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead at a public event to demand more details on CAP greening measures.
The group of cereal farmers challenged Mr Lochhead at the Turriff show in Aberdeenshire on Monday, 4 August. As well as more detail on CAP plans, they demanded assurances that they would not face penalties for breaking rules on cropping which were yet to be published.
Almost eight weeks after Defra announced detailed greening rules, Scottish farmers are still working in a vacuum of information over what to plant once harvest fields are cleared. Their biggest fear is falling foul of the new rules and facing cross-compliance penalties.
NFU Scotland cereals convener Andrew Moir was one of the farmers who tackled Mr Lochhead. He described the lack of detail on fundamental issues such as catch crops as “crass”.
“We want to know which crops and varieties we can use – that would be a good start,” he said. “We don’t know if we can use peas and beans or what the size of field margins will be and we desperately need this detail. And we want it today.”
However Mr Lochhead refused to confirm when the details would be released.
“These are difficult decisions and I’m working with officials and doing my absolute utmost to get the details out as soon as possible,” he said.
“I appreciate the frustration of farmers that the CAP timetable doesn’t fit exactly with the growing seasons, but the clear message I’ve had from the industry all along is that it’s worth taking extra time to get the detail right rather than rush and cause even bigger problems.”
On compliance, Mr Lochhead acknowledged it was important not to be “heavy-handed”, but emphasised the regulations had to meet EU standards
He said: “We’ll do our best to work with the industry to make sure we’re proportionate.”