Pack inquiry aims to tackle livestock drop
An independent inquiry into farmer support in Scotland suggests using area-based payments to address falling livestock numbers.
The interim report, produced by chairman Brian Pack, says future support should consist of four strands: direct payments, a top-up fund, rural development programme funding and Less Favoured Area support.
The proposed top-up fund might be divided between producers in proportion to their direct area payment or, possibly, use some of the money for sectoral specific schemes - the successors to Article 68.
It flags up the considerable financial redistribution between farms of the same type and between regions that would be needed under a move from historic to area-based payments and points out that the more intensive livestock farms will be hardest-hit.
The report also recommends that no change to the Single Farm Payment system should be made until at least a year after the post-2013 CAP regime is known.
Alan Craig, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said there would be winners and losers in any adjustment of support funding in the future. “The report also warns that some of these losers may be the country’s most productive, intensive finishers,” said Craig. “That would be of particular concern to us, as such an ‘unintended consequence’ could create an even worse situation than we have at present. This must be avoided.”
NFU Scotland president Jim McLaren added: “The model discussed in the report of an area-based payment with a top-up fund fits well with our own recommendations to the inquiry. A base payment focused on productivity, but with other funds directly connected to achieving specific outcomes makes the case very clearly to the taxpayer for ongoing support.
“A decision to use Article 68 would require the clearing of a series of hurdles, may not be achievable until 2012 – only a year before the CAP is rewritten – and could be divisive.”
The inquiry team will attend public meetings around the country in the next few weeks and a final report is expected to be presented to the Scottish Government in late spring.
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