Thursday, 20 November 2008

A good result for Scotland

With the EP having sent its view to the Council yesterday it was now the turn of EU farm ministers meeting in Brussels today to reach a final political agreement on the CAP health check.

The deal finally reached was welcomed by Scotland’s Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead MSP who was at the talks. In a press release he stated that this was a good deal for Scottish agriculture because “on key issues our voice has been heard loud and clear given that we have retained the freedom to deliver policies tailored to our needs. "It is in Scotland's interests to have a European farming policy that supports sustainable production rather than over-production and in that context the CAP Health Check moves in the right direction". The deal was also supported by Scotland's National Farmers Union with key issues resolved concerning the continued operation of the Scottish beef calf scheme and the disparity between Scottish and EU rates of modulation being significantly reduced.

In a press release on the DEFRA website the UK Government states that it could not support the final Health check deal because “it allows unused funding from the Single Farm Payment budget to be used to fund payments coupled to production, rather than being returned to the Member States, and because it creates short-term competitive distortions and uncertainity in the dairy sector from a range of measures, particularly through different increases in milk quotas for some Member States and unnecessary reviews of the phase-out process”.

London was also “disappointed that the Health Check was unable to go further in reforming the CAP, and we are concerned about the market distortions created by the increased flexibility in the use of `national envelopes’ which allow Member States to reintroduce production-coupled payments to support specific farming sectors”.

The UK government has already set out its stall on the future CAP reform backing a position that wants to see the phasing out of spending in pillar 1 with payments under a reshaped pillar 2 of CAP focusing on delivering environmental benefits that the market wouldn’t otherwise deliver.

Detailed implementing regulations will be drawn up by the Commission in 2009 with most of the provisions entering into force as of 2010. While the implementation of the CAP health check now passes back home, the discussions for the real reform of the CAP post-2013 are getting underway and we need to ensure that Scotland's farming and rural interests are very much central to any future shape of the European agricultural model and that is something which we will be working hard to do.

No comments: