10 April 1998
Cereal farmers face crop acreage increase penalty
Scottish cereal farmers have been warned of further gloom as the result of more farmers ploughing up grass and sowing cereals.
The Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) economist Sandy Ramsay told a meeting in Fife this week that this increase in the combinable crop acreage will again mean that the Scottish non-less favoured area overshoots the base area set by the European Union.
That would trigger the penalty clause and reduce support payments by “at least as much as the 7.11% reduction imposed on the 1997 crop”, Mr Ramsay claimed.
Oilseed growers will face a much deeper cut in support. This could be as much as 40%.
Mr Ramsay added to oilseeds growers concerns by stating that the prospects under the Agenda 2000 reform package were extremely bad. The proposals lump all combinable crops, from grain to oilseed, under the support umbrella.
He also pointed to the adverse effects of the removal of the green rate freeze from the payments of British farmers.
More farmers are turning to the conservation options which are available. Matthew Brown, an SAC adviser, told the meeting that the college was receiving more inquiries for environmental audits from farmers wishing to get into the Countryside Premium Scheme (CPS).
More than 900 farmers applied for the CPS and half of them were accepted last year. The limiting factor was Scottish Office cash ceilings.