Red card over greening rules

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead

Four weeks into a new Basic Payment Scheme year the Scottish Government has failed to provide satisfactory updated guidance to farmers on greening and has done little to remove the unnecessary gold-plating it has created, according to the National Union of Farmers Scotland.

It states that compliance with greening measures – which account for approximately 30 percent of available support under new CAP schemes – has been extremely challenging for Scottish farmers because of Scottish Government’s insistence in gold-plating certain European requirements.

In November, angry farmers left Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead in no doubt about their thoughts on greening bolt-ons.

That lack of up-to-date guidance is proving hugely frustrating and challenging for producers as ‘greening’ elements of the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) year opened on 1 January 2016, with land having to be left out of production.

And the Scottish Government plans to introduce further gold-plating, forcing grassland farmers to produce an annual nutrient plan.

NFUS President Allan Bowie said: “The Scottish Government has banged on about how green Scottish agriculture already is, yet here they are imposing additional requirements on our farmers. While claiming to support simplification, the latest threat of asking all grassland farmers to provide a nutrient plan is nothing to do with equivalence – it is simply gold-plating.”

Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell said that she had written to Richard Lochhead for an update and to ensure that guidance to the farmers on the new regime was clear and easily accessible.

“I’m also meeting with some local farmers and NFU representatives next week to hear about some of these issues directly,” she said.

“We’re all proud of the great work farmers do to protect the environment and biodiversity, and this partnership approach between government and local producers will help maintain Scotland’s environment for generations to come.”