CAP concerns hamper farmers’ confidence

Scottish beef farmers feel more confident about the future than a year ago, but are concerned about the CAP reform, a Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) survey has revealed.

Single farm payment changes was the greatest concern expressed by farmers, followed by input price inflation and animal health risks.

Fears over future policies are weighing on business planning, and despite growing confidence levels compared to a similar survey in carried out in 2008, only 28% of farmers surveyed said they were planning on increasing their herd size. Significantly, less than half (46%) of the farmers who expressed more confidence than last year said they would like to expand their herd, and 6% are even considering reducing it. However, the proportion of businesses planning to reduce herd size has halved, from 20% in 2008 to 10% in 2011.

QMS head of economics Stuart Ashworth said: “The survey shows a picture of an industry growing in confidence, but that still has some major concerns hampering its ability to invest in the medium to long term.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, given the importance of single farm payments to business viability, concerns over its future are having the greatest influence on business planning followed by concerns over input price inflation.  Many investment decisions are likely to remain on hold until some certainty emerges on the future shape of the CAP.”

Overall, confidence levels were higher than in 2008, but differences exist between various enterprises. For example, 45% of farmers who do not sell prime cattle revealed they were more confident about the future than a year ago, but this percentage falls to 28% for those who sell prime stock, and 28% for farmers who buy store cattle for finishing. 

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