CAP delivery priority

Delivering the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is an ‘absolute priority’ for the Scottish Government, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has said.

Mr Lochhead’s comments follow the publication of the December 2014 Agricultural Survey and the opening of the Single Application Form (SAF) window. The window for submitting Single Application Forms (SAF) opened on Monday March 16, 2015 and will close on Friday May 15, 2015, as required by EU rules.

The Rural Affairs Secretary said:

“Delivering the new Common Agricultural Policy is an absolute priority for the Scottish Government – and, like other administrations, we are dealing with significant challenges caused by the radical nature of these latest CAP reforms.

“However, there has been a lot of hard work getting us to this point where the SAF window is now open and farmers and crofters can submit their applications.

“I welcome indications that Commission Hogan is considering offering greater flexibility in relation to the timescale for SAF applications and I look forward to seeing the detail of that in due course.

“The need for the vital support that CAP offers Scottish agriculture has been underlined by the latest December Agricultural Survey results. While I welcome the overall rise in livestock numbers, particularly the increase in pigs and dairy cows, I note that beef cattle and lamb numbers have fallen.

“I urge all livestock producers in fragile areas to ensure they apply for LFASS in this year’s SAF, as active farmers who were previously frozen out under the old rules may now qualify for support. And in future, livestock producers will also be able to apply for support from our new voluntary coupled support and Beef Efficiency schemes when they are rolled out.

“I also note that there has been a significant decrease in poultry, which is disappointing but not unexpected given the restructuring currently taking place in that sector to secure its long-term future. And the total area of winter sown crops is holding steady although showing some changes in the relative areas of the different crops being grown. This may give us the first indications of the possible impact of the new CAP on the arable sector, which we will monitor closely.”

Scotland’s Chief Agricultural Officer David Barnes added:

“The SAF window has now opened, and this is the first year that farmers and crofters can apply for new CAP funding schemes such as the Basic Payment and Greening. The new CAP is more complex than the previous policy, and the difficulties caused by European delays in getting the fine technical details we need for implementation are well documented.

“Our new Rural Payments and Services website has been designed specifically for the new CAP and SAF. It is important to note that the online system will be unavailable on occasion for planned maintenance and other updates – although we are seeking to minimise disruption as much as possible.

“We are encouraging as many people as possible to apply for their SAF online. However, we will still accept paper applications from those who choose to apply that way, and we are sending those customers who used a paper SAF last year their pre-populated form as well as hard copies of our guidance on Greening, Cross Compliance Guidance and the Basic Payment Scheme.

“In order for the Scottish Government to process payments, all claimants – regardless of whether they complete their SAF online or on paper – need to register for the Rural Payments and Services system and make sure we have the correct bank account details.

“We expect to receive around 22,000 SAFs and, as of yesterday, more than half of farmers, crofters and other eligible businesses – just over 11,100 – have successfully signed up. Anyone who has not registered yet should do so as soon as possible, and before the deadline of May 15, 2015.

“All the guidance that farmers, crofters and land managers need to complete their SAF has now been published on Rural Payments and Services website. Although there will be no more significant changes to the guidance for this year’s direct payment schemes, I would always advise farmers, crofters and land managers filling in their SAF to double check the latest information online or with their local RPID area office.”

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