This week the Scottish government announced its final decisions on implementing the new CAP post 2015, leaving Northern Ireland as the only UK region still to decide on big issues such as regionalisation and implementation.
UFU President Ian Marshall said; “While these aren’t easy decisions to make at least the Scottish government has made them and farmers in Scotland have an idea of what they will be working with come 2015. Supporting activity and production was a recurring theme throughout the Scottish announcement. They are looking to the future and have taken decisions on implementation which will ensure that farmers will be supported to assist in the growth and development of the Scottish agri-food industry.
“Interestingly Scotland, England and Wales have all opted for multi-region approaches when it comes to regionalisation. Scotland will be creating three direct support payment regions with a coupled support scheme for sheep producers in the third region. The other UK regions have all demonstrated that they recognise that there are different production capacities in different areas, and that direct payments should reflect this. In fact, Scotland has gone a step further by recognising the vulnerability of sheep farmers in the third region and putting in measures to support these farmers. The decisions mirror the proposals put forward by the Union for a two region model in Northern Ireland with a suckler cow support scheme for farmers in the SDA region. Scotland’s decisions highlight that the Union’s suggested two region model is deliverable if there is a will to do so. DARD seem to be completely out of step with the rest of the UK when it comes to regionalisation and the decisions by England, Scotland and Wales just further emphasises that what seems to the easy route isn’t always necessarily the right route.”
Similar to Northern Ireland, Scotland recognised that its beef industry is particularly vulnerable to changes under the new CAP.
UFU President Ian Marshall said; “The Scottish government has shown their commitment to the Scottish beef industry by announcing a three year beef improvement scheme worth around £45million. With confidence in the beef sector extremely low, this will be a boost for Scottish beef farmers. We want to see a similar initiative here and the Union has been calling for something like this to be included in Northern Ireland’s new CAP.”
Mr Marshall concluded; “Another theme throughout the Scottish announcement was that of regional convergence and it was clear that Scotland still believes money should be redistributed between the UK regions. The ‘Scottish factor’ remains a very real threat to NI farmers’ direct payments, especially when Scotland has secured a review of regional allocations in 2017. Should Scotland be successful, our farming industry stands to lose a staggering €100million which would cripple the farming industry. If Northern Ireland to opt for a single region under the new CAP, when every other UK region has opted for multi-regions, it will only strengthen Scotland’s case for redistribution and it is naive to think that Scotland won’t use this to their advantage in future negotiations.”