CAP reform - Frequently Asked Questions

combine harvesterUpdated 4 April 2014

What is the Common Agricultural Policy?

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides a system of agricultural support and programmes throughout the EU. First established in 1957, it currently accounts for almost 39% of the EU Budget.

It is split into two Pillars: Pillar 1 relates to direct support payments, such as  the Single Farm Payment which is currently worth about £0.5bn a year to Scotland's farmers, whilst Pillar 2 supports the Rural Development Programme.

What are the main wins for Scotland in the reformed CAP?

  • Securing the flexibility that will enable Scottish Government to take the important decisions on how the new CAP should be implemented to meet Scotland's diverse farming needs.
  • Securing a deal that means Scotland’s new entrants and previously unsupported sectors such as deer farming receive fair treatment and will be able to claim support from day one of the new CAP regime.
  • Ensuring that payments only go to active farmers by strengthening the link between payments and farming activity. The ‘Scottish clause’ allows us to set a minimum activity level that will help tackle the practice of ‘slipper farmers’.

Why is CAP important for Scotland?

This is important for Scotland because a strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is vital to ensure a sustainable future for Scotland's agriculture sector.

How did Scotland help to influence the deal?

Scotland argued throughout the negotiations for a fair deal for Scotland's farmers, with sufficient flexibility in the system to meet Scotland's diverse farming needs.

We believed it was vital that there was a better link between payments and farming activity, supporting productive agriculture and ensuring inactivity did not attract support. The ‘Scottish clause’ is the result of our efforts and should end the scourge of ‘slipper farmers’.

We also argued vociferously to get CAP support for new entrants coming into the farming sector and securing this – which we did - was very important for us.

When was the CAP last reformed?

The last major reform was in 2003, followed by a review known as the ‘Health Check’ in 2008.

How long have the negotiations been on-going?

The European Commission published its communication on the future CAP, ‘The CAP Towards 2020 - meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future’, in November 2010 and followed this up with a consultation which closed in January 2011. The Commission first published its draft CAP Reform Regulations on 12 October 2011.

What happens next?

Now that agreement has been reached in Europe on the main CAP Regulations, negotiations continue on the delegated acts (or implementing regulations). Final versions of the delegated acts were submitted to the European Parliament and Council of Ministers on 11 March 2014. Both have the right to object to the delegated acts within 2 months, although a 2 month extension is possible.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has carried out consultations on how it should implement both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the CAP. For Pillar 1 we have to notify the Commission of our plans by 1 August this year.  For Pillar 2 we intend submitting our Scotland Rural Development Programme to the Commission in late spring or early summer.

You can keep up to date with the latest information relating to Scotland on these pages or you can follow @GreenerScotland on Twitter.