A consultation launched by Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, on the prospects of the introduction of a cap on the payment of Single Farm Payments (SFP) has revealed some interesting results.

Despite long-running and vocal opposition to a cap on payments in some sectors of Scottish farming, more than two-thirds of those who responded said that Alyn shouldn’t continue to oppose capping of SFP under any circumstances, especially if the money saved is retained within Scotland for the wider benefit of the farming sector.

Half of the respondents also said that capping should occur from EUR 150,000, which is at half the level recommended by the European Commission in their recent CAP proposals.

Alyn said:

“As we move forward into the nuts and bolts of CAP reform, consultation exercises such as this one are important in ensuring that Scottish farmers have a genuine opportunity to make their views known and to influence policy.  It is my job to encourage as much participation as I can, it is then up to individuals to participate or not.

“During my years representing Scottish agriculture in Brussels it has become clear to me that some important policy debates have become distorted due to the megaphone impact of highly vocal minorities. Capping is a prime example.

“While the response rate to the consultation certainly could have been higher, the results very much square with my own anecdotal observations – that the Scottish farming community as a whole is significantly more amenable to a well-designed capping scheme which redistributes resources towards new entrants than some would lead you to believe.  The consultation of course does not bind me, but it was an interesting exercise in clarifying my own thinking on the merits of capping and I thank all those who took part.

“We are facing a very tight budgetary settlement and therefore must make the best use of every penny at our disposal.”

The consultation was hosted on www.alynsmith.eu and completed by 28 respondents.  A summary of the answers is below:

Question 1: Should Alyn continue to oppose capping of SFP under any circumstances?

Yes: 28.5%
No: 67.8%
Undecided: 3.7%

Question 2: At what level should capping occur?

Below EUR 100,000: 17.8%
EUR 100,000: 10.7%
EUR 150,000: 21.4%
EUR 200,000: 7.1%
EUR 250,000: 10.7%
EUR 300,000: 0%
Above EUR 300,000: 32.1%

Question 3: Should proceeds of capping be retained in a Scottish National Reserve or revert back to EU?

Retained: 88.5%
Revert to EU: 3.8%
Undecided: 7.7%

Question 4: Should proceeds go into a National Reserve to be distributed in new direct payments?

Yes: 66.7%
No: 20.8%
Undecided: 12.5%

Question 5: Should these proceeds be specifically invested in schemes like SBCS or new animal health budget?

Yes: 45.5%
No: 27.3%
Undecided: 27.3%

Question 6:  Should capping be linked to farmer income?

Yes: 11.5%
No: 69.2%
Undecided: 19.2%

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