Lack of CAP detail frustrates Scots’ drilling plans

Scottish cereals growers have begun planting next year’s crops, seriously handicapped by a lack of information on the greening measures under the new CAP.

Despite repeated requests for guidance over the past few months, growers have not been able to delay planting any longer and NFU Scotland (NFUS) has appealed again to the Scottish government to make decisions on the management rules for nitrogen-fixing crops, the start and end dates for ecological focus area (EFA) fallow and other key information.

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NFUS president Nigel Miller said: “Winter oilseed rape has to be planted in August and that is well under way; drilling of winter barley will begin in September and seed orders for other crops are being placed.

“There is no more time for decisions to be considered, they have to be taken now.”

The Scottish government is about to send farmers a pack of information on the CAP, but much of it is unchanged from material that was available in June. In contrast, growers in England have been given much clearer, up-to-date guidance.

Mr Miller said the Scottish government document was in “desperate need” of being updated.

“For months, we have been seeking answers to a significant number of questions on the greening aspects of the new CAP,” he added.

“These are not questions about the generality of the rules – covered in the documents being sent out now, but specific questions that growers need answers to so they can plan and execute their cropping programmes.

“There was a very valuable commitment to providing viable ecological focus area options for all and, at this late stage, that hasn’t been delivered yet.

Farmers in England have had information available since June and a further 40 pages of guidance was published earlier this month.

“In contrast, the Scottish government’s brief greening document on its website fails to provide the detail that is needed by growers,” added Mr Miller.

“We recognise the decision-making process within the European regulation is difficult but the urgency of cultivation and drilling must mean that workable decisions and detail has to be on farm before much more is ploughed. That hasn’t been achieved.”

A Scottish government spokesman directed enquiries to the Scotgov website, which states that some of the greening “finer details” still need further work.

The website states: “Scotland’s CAP budget is relatively small and so we need to wring maximum environmental benefit from our greening payments.

“This means the decisions we have had to make have been much more difficult, and consequently it has taken a bit longer to get them right.”

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