Defra backs 13% coupled support for Scotland

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has welcomed news that the Scottish government could gain coupled support up to 13%.

Owen Paterson, Defra secretary of state, agreed earlier this month that 13% of Scotland’s agricultural support budget under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could be coupled (linked to the amount a farm produces rather than paid as a lump sum). The previous top rate for coupled payments was 8%, but after a long period of negotiations between the UK, Scotland and the EU, Defra has confirmed that the Scottish government can use the higher rate, if it can come up with a worakable system. The agreement will give Scotland more flexibility in how it supports is farmers in rough grazing areas.

The SAMW has been lobbying for reform to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) since 2004, when reform threatened to significantly reduce cattle numbers. “The cabinet secretary’s determination and persistence in refusing to give up on the 13% argument has delivered a potential lifeline for the future of Scotch beef and lamb,” said SAMW president, Alan McNaughton. “This breakthrough, of course, comes with the challenge of how to apply the enhanced coupled payment to maximum effect. It will have to be manageable and avoid market distortion, with simplicity and practicality being important policy keynotes.  
“With the implementation of the last CAP Reform having resulted in the steady erosion of beef and lamb production in Scotland, it is vital that the conclusion of the current support package is much more in tune with the industry’s needs and aspirations.

“SAMW is encouraged by the depth of consultation surrounding the use of the 13% ruling, seeing this as a genuine attempt to secure the very best solution for Scotland within a framework which also satisfies UK and EU requirements concerning future support structures for our industry.  We also see a cattle development package under pillar 2 as a potentially valuable device to increase the efficiency, productivity and profitability of the Scottish industry.
“Along with all other industry bodies we are determined to grab the revised lifeline which is now on offer for Scotland. This is a real and valuable chance to move our industry forward.”

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