Farming groups lobby for flexible payment system in CAP negotiations

NFU Scotland has joined other national farming organisations in calling for a flexible payment system which keeps food production at its core.

NFUS and other members of COPA - the umbrella organisation for farming unions in the EU - met in Dublin last week to discuss how the Irish Presidency expects the CAP Reform talks to progress.

The group – which included NFUS and farming organisations from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Denmark - believes the proposed move away from the historical reference payment to a flat rate payment by 2020 risks undermining the viability of many farms.

Together the group signed a declaration calling for a flexible payment system which supports production.

An ambitious timetable for the reform process has been set out with the Presidency seeking to finalise a political agreement on outstanding issues during the remaining days of February and throughout March. 

That will then allow the Irish Presidency to enter into talks with the Commission and European Parliament with the intention of agreeing a deal by the end of its presidency in June

NFUS president Nigel Miller said the new agreement aims to build on the principle of convergence being proposed at a European Member State level where the aim is to bring support payments rates closer to the EU average.  

If the same principle were to be applied when an individual Member State or region moves from a historic payment to an area payment it would allow for support rates to individual businesses to fall within a range rather than being flattened to a single rate, lowering the impact of redistribution, said Mr Miller.

“This convergence model – known informally as the Irish tunnel – provides another option to manage the transition to area based payments but also recognises previous levels of activity on a farm,” he added.

“It may give Scotland a tool that is more sensitive to the variation in systems and the intensity of production, which is a feature of Scotland’s farming industry.

“The mechanism may be the best way to protect many individual farm businesses from the unintended consequences that a new regional approach to payment may have for some farms.”

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