In a Union consultation, a large majority of members voted against Article 68 of the new Single Farm Payment (SFP), which allows EU member states to top-slice the value of SFP entitlements received by some or all farmers in order to create a specific pot of money to target at particular regions or sectors.
The NFUS claimed the Scottish Government needed to take steps to halt the loss of livestock from Scotland’s hills and uplands and that Article 68 risks destabilising sheep and beef farms, in order to deliver money to producers, yet without any requirement for them to remain actively farming in the future.
NFUS president Jim McLaren said: “The majority of our members have recognised that Article 68 is a blunt instrument that may do nothing to address the risk of destocking in parts of Scotland – and indeed may actually do the reverse. For destocking to be tackled, funding must be targeted at the most vulnerable producers in a way that recognises and reflects ongoing activity.
“It is apparent that using Article 68 to boost the SFP of some producers in this manner cannot be permanently linked to activity and that those receiving an uplift in their SFP rates could just sell their entitlements the next day. At worst, this could be seen politically and publicly as ‘money for nothing’ and it could actually accelerate the exodus from the industry. I don’t know how the industry could justify those circumstances to itself, let alone the public.”
A total of 6% of members who responded supported Article 68’s use and 11% were undecided.