As the 1 January draws ever closer, and with it the requirement for the details of Scotland’s CAP reform measures, Scottish Conservative Rural Affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson has accused the Scottish Government of creating confusion when it should be providing clarity, and failing to live up to the assurances that it previously gave to the sector.
“Last June, Richard Lochhead was generally praised for producing a CAP reform structure which did its best to please everyone. It is however, becoming increasingly clear that it will please practically no-one. For instance, in November, measures to prevent ‘slipper farming’ talked of five conditions of which at least two had to be met. As of yesterday, it seems that there will be two conditions of which only one will have to be met”.
“More seriously, farmers were assured that, as the EU regulation makes clear, the transition to internal convergence should involve five equal steps. But, by taking off all deductions such as modulation in year one, Lochhead is inflicting a massive drop in the basic payment in year one with four subsequent almost insignificant steps. Some farmers will even drop below the convergence target in year one, and then gradually climb their way back. On top of that, many of the ‘disadvantaged’ farmers who were promised that they would be put straight on to the regional average payment won’t be, and will therefore remain disadvantaged”.
“This is beginning to bear all the hallmarks of a shambles – it is far from what was promised last June and the Cabinet Secretary needs to get a grip of the situation if he is to keep the trust of the farming sector in Scotland. The tragedy is that he is running out of time – or, as a cynic might wonder, have these details been left to the very last minute precisely because they can no longer be changed.”