Scottish Government challenged over cost and complexity of greening

NFU Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to tackle the cost and complexity of greening and ease the cross-compliance burden on Scotland’s growers.

In a meeting with Scottish Government officials, the Union pointed out that Scotland’s arable, potatoes, vegetable and soft fruit sectors are being squeezed at one end by the difficult weather this summer and price volatility while greening measures, as they stand, are adding cost and uncertainty at the other.

While at a European level, Commissioner Hogan’s simplification agenda offers some limited scope to deliver improvements, the Union wants Scottish Government to look again at domestic implementation of greening and cross-compliance measures to see what further steps might be taken to prevent these issues from compromising food production and the viability of Scotland’s growers.

Steps could include removing gold-plating or rules in Scotland; introducing equivalence measures and conversion factors and providing simpler guidance.

Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said: “Like every other sector, our growers are currently toiling under volatile prices and challenging weather.

“However, they have the additional burden of carrying much of the ‘greening’ responsibility for Scotland under the terms of the new CAP schemes. That has added cost and complexity to our growers’ businesses and Scottish Government is in a position to ease the pressure.

“Commissioner Hogan’s simplification agenda will be limited in its scope to improve the current CAP. That is why it is imperative that Scottish Government look again at domestic implementation of greening and cross-compliance to see what further steps might be taken to prevent these from further compromising food production and the viability of the cropping sector.

“We know that greening, as an important element of CAP, is here to stay but the Scottish Government has the opportunity to ensure that any measures it introduces are compatible with profitable agriculture.

“Scotland’s greening package contains elements of gold plating compared to European requirements – the rules around the management of nitrogen fixing crops are a good example – and these need to be stripped out. The introduction of equivalence measures would benefit both farmers and those SGRPID staff charged with delivery and inspection of greening rules. Similarly, we continue to question the legality of new cross-compliance rules restricting the cultivation of land within two metres of a hedge.

“Looking forward, growers want straightforward and clearer guidance that can be better understood so they can cope with the twin challenges of greening and declining market returns. Going into any season, it is crucial our growers know what their options are and can work within their own farming systems to ensure the impact of greening on our abilities to produce food is minimal.

“It is up to Government to ensure that in delivering their greening options they don’t come at a disproportionate cost to growers.”

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