Scotland seeks representation in CAP talks
Published:  25 June, 2013

Scotland’s farming minister has called on the UK government to consider the interests of Scottish farmers during Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) negotiations.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead wrote to Defra secretary of state Owen Paterson ahead of this week’s negotiations, warning that the outcomes of CAP reform would be critical to Scotland’s farming sector.

He asked Paterson to push for a level playing field for voluntary coupled support, which he said was vital to stop further decline in Scottish livestock numbers, which have fallen by nearly 30,000 since 2005.

“A key priority for Scotland – which I will be pushing hard on – is securing a level playing field for voluntary coupled support across Europe, with the option of using up to 15%,” he said.

“It is blatantly unfair that there should be a two-tier system for coupled payments, with Scotland – where we have tested the water by decoupling and have monitored the impact that this has had on livestock numbers – on the lower tier.”

Lochhead also called for the UK government to negotiate better funding arrangements to support new entrants to the farming industry.

“That means we need a fully functioning national reserve, which we can replenish to support future new entrants,” he said.

The minister said the UK should also raise the issue of using the CAP to tackle climate change using existing greening measures.

“The conclusion of the CAP talks has been a long time coming, but there is still time for the UK government to do the right thing – and, for the sake of our farmers, that’s what I’ve called on them to do,” he said.