What is the Common Agricultural Policy?
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides a system of agricultural subsidies and programmes throughout the EU. First established in 1957, the CAP provides a programme of agricultural support throughout the EU and currently accounts for around 41% 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.
What are Pillar 1 and Pillar 2?
Pillar 1 relates to direct support payments such as the Single Farm Payment (SFP) which is currently worth about £0.5bn to Scotland's farmers whilst Pillar 2 supports the Rural Development Programme.
When was the CAP last reformed?
The last major reform was in 2003 and the most recent review known as the ‘Health Check’ was in 2008.
How long have the negotiations been ongoing?
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. Negotiations have been ongoing since then and the final deal is expected to be ratified by the European Parliament later this year.
What happens next?
Now that this agreement has been reached in Europe, it still has to be ratified by the European Parliament. It is expected this will happen in the autumn and the final legal texts will then be published.
The negotiations will also continue, at a UK level, to discuss the allocation of the budget and the implementation of the proposals.
In Scotland, we have already held a consultation to gather stakeholders' views on the initial European Commission proposals and an initial consultation on the next Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP). There will now be further consultations for both Direct Payment and the SRDP on how Scotland should implement the changes.
You can keep up to date with the latest information relating to Scotland on these pages or you can follow @GreenerScotland on Twitter.