To make a bit of a change, every so often, I am going to invite a guest blog. This time it is the turn of David Steel who farms in Perthshire and sits on the Scottish Government’s New Entrants panel. The view expressed are his own and don’t represent mine or the Scottish Government. This comes ahead of the Scottish Government New Entrants Gathering to be held in Murrayfield, Edinburgh later this week, on the 26th February.
It has been a real eye opener representing new entrants during CAP reform negotiations and now as a member of the New Entrants Panel. It was a real step forward for Richard Lochhead to ensure we had proper representation within the stakeholder group, and by setting up the New Entrant Panel which discusses and advises on a whole range of matters that affect New Entrants. Nobody can know the requirements better for getting new blood into the industry than newcomers that have been through the mill themselves.
There is nothing like CAP reform discussions to get the various stakeholders retreating into their entrenched positions. As a new entrant, I have taken a view that fairness to all farmers is what CAP reform should deliver. We New Entrants don’t want special treatment, just fair treatment compared with our contemporary established farmers. An example of where this doesn’t look likely, is adopting a gradual change to the new CAP system. This doesn’t deliver fairness, as we new entrants have to stand at a ringside bidding on livestock or tendering for land against farmers who will have much higher single farm payments due to their historical element. So any new entrants reading this needs to complete the CAP consultation and make your views on CAP reform known.
The one thing we find within the New Entrants Panel is that we are all practical, pragmatic people who put the dogma of the various organisations we represent in a backseat, to arrive at common sense, pragmatic positions and solutions.
The single most important issue we presently have to deal with is making sure that the National Reserve for the new CAP picks up all those disadvantaged by the old scheme. This will include many businesses that had small scale activity during the last reference period and have expanded significantly since then. It will also need to pick up those who have started business since then and have bought low levels of entitlements and need to have this made up to the basic area payments levels at least. You can be assured that we know the problems and hopefully we will arrive with a National Reserve Scheme that is inclusive and doesn’t repeat the errors of the past and exclude New Entrants from the subsidy system.
New Entrants Panel member