17-12-2013 11:27 AM | Arable, Cereal, Crops, News, Property News

2014: A Pivotal point for Scottish agriculture



NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller, has described 2014 as a pivotal point for Scottish agriculture.

Extreme weather events of 2012 and 2013 have left a legacy that many farm businesses are slowly recovering from but it is the political decisions to be taken in the next 12 months that will shape the long-term future of the sector.

In a busy 12 months, the Union expects to be at the heart of discussions on implementing CAP reform in Scotland, establishing a new rural development programme, pushing for an LFASS re-base, informing the Agricultural Holdings review, re-designing the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs), and building Scotland’s food and drink sectors. That activity will take place against the backdrop of an Independence referendum.

Writing in the Union’s annual report, Mr Miller said: “The next 12 months are a pivotal point in defining Scotland’s future farmed landscape and productive potential. For Scotland, there is a considerable amount of work to be done in 2014.


“The architecture of Scotland’s new CAP must be defined; the regionalisation of Scotland and the transition arrangements that will move Scotland away from historic support are two of the basic building blocks to deliver future support. The detail of greening within the arable area is also still a priority.

“CAP reform in Scotland will certainly embrace the limited coupled option offered by the 2013 agreement. Utilising that tool to complement regional support is a must if all sectors are to gain some value from this targeting tool.

“There is a determination both in government and the farming community that the new CAP will bring new and developing businesses into full support from day one. The national reserve will also have a key role to ensure businesses do not fall between the cracks of legislation. The next few months will be crucial in defining the function and priorities of that national reserve.

“LFA support remains the core priority for discussions on Pillar 2. The consultation on the design of the new Scottish Rural Development Plan is now out, and it offers an opportunity to strip out the complex application procedures from the competitive options. Limiting the size of projects can open up support to more farm businesses despite the limited budget.

“We will also look to develop our view that our LFA scheme should be re-based to bring in new entrants and anomaly cases. In the coming months, we will use our regional team to gather evidence on the numbers of farmers currently locked out of LFA support and would benefit from the re-basing exercise.

“Climate change will colour the new SRDP and can be a priority that provides multiple benefit by also driving business efficiency. Designing win-wins can deliver for all stakeholders: the Union will be at the centre of this development process next year.

“The independence referendum will dominate the political skyline in Scotland but there are other major decisions to be taken in 2014 that will be fundamental to the future of many members.

“The Agricultural Holdings review is a major piece of work chaired by the Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead. A survey of all tenants will inform the process. Legislation is almost certain, however this process is more significant than new law. It has the potential to change operating standards over much of Scotland’s farmed area and will determine the opportunities for our new generation as well as defining the potential growth of existing businesses. It is important we use this opportunity to move Scotland into a more positive era.

“The re-designation of our NVZ regions next year offers a chance to remove land from controls where ground water evidence gives the green light.

“The Grocery Code adjudicator, Christine Tacon is now in place – developing, monitoring and reporting procedures will be key to changing the trading environment. Next year will see that important role bed in.

“And 2014 will also be a launch pad for the further development of the export ambitions of Scotland Food and Drink. As we enter our hundred and first year, members – more than ever before – see themselves at the centre of that food and drink success story.”

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