Scottish industry takes hats off to new CAP

The Scottish meat industry has welcomed the announcement of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which aims to boost production, including a £45m investment in the beef industry.

In an address to the Scottish Parliament, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, outlined how the new CAP policy will be implemented in Scotland between 2015 and 2020. The policy states strict activity requirements that farmers will have to meet to be eligible for direct support payments, meaning that only “genuinely active farmers” will be entitled. This will remove land with no agricultural activity from the payment regime, which is currently estimated at 600,000 hectares in Scotland.

Lochhead also announced a new £45m investment under the “beef improvement scheme”, which would be used to financially support producers on matters such as genetics, performance and reducing their carbon footprint.

The 8% coupled support rate for farmers will be retained (linked to the amount a farm produces rather than paid as a lump sum), however it was suggested before the announcement that this could be raised to 13%, which could have provided Scotland more flexibility in how it supports its farmers in rough grazing areas. However, beef producers on the islands will be eligible for higher coupled support payments than mainland producers, with an uplift of around €65 per calf.

Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said: “We are very encouraged by the Cabinet Secretary’s recognition of the vulnerability of the Scottish beef industry in the face of significant CAP reform, and his adoption of a five-year transition period gives the industry valuable time to adjust.

“We particularly welcome today’s announcement of a £45m commitment by the Scottish Government to support a three-year beef improvement scheme. This was one of the initial recommendations of the Beef 2020 group and its adoption will support more efficient beef production and help to underpin the long-term quality of Scotch Beef PGI.”

Ian Anderson, Executive Manager of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) congratulated Lochhead. "SAMW has consistently advocated CAP policies which will encourage increased cattle and sheep production to give producers the best possible chance of turning around the relentless decline in livestock  production  since the last CAP reform in 2004. We will need time to fully understand the details of the package, which might not fully meet the needs of all sectors of the livestock industry. However, in general, the Scottish Government has put together a good set of measures  despite the restricted budget available to it, and the constraints it was working under.

"Richard Lochhead is to be congratulated on a very good  job in very difficult circumstances.

"In particular, the Pillar 2 , £45 million beef package, over three years, to deliver economic and environmental improvements can only enhance the quality and sustainability of Scotch beef from its already prominent position.”

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