We’re into the last week of the consultation exercise on Pillar 1 direct payments. I’m really pleased with the response rate so far, but the more the merrier – especially after the Cabinet Secretary extended the deadline to make sure everyone with an interest has a good chance to respond. The new deadline is this Friday. As Mr Lochhead said in a letter that went out to all CAP recipients last week, please do use this this opportunity to give us your views.
Included with that letter was a pack of information about the new CAP, both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2. We were aware that the farmers’ representatives with whom we’ve been discussing the new CAP for years are atypical in terms of how much they know about the new policy. The vast majority of farmers, even those who have been following the story closely, will be much less familiar with the detail. To give just one example, the fact that the old Single Farm Payment entitlements will be voided and replaced by a brand new set of entitlements is old hat to stakeholder representatives, but there’s no reason why grass roots farmers would know it unless they’re told. So we tried to make the information pack useful for everybody, not just those who already have a certain level of knowledge.
The other big challenge in drafting it was how much detail to go into. We knew that if we made it too long then people would find it impenetrable and it wouldn’t get read. On the other hand, these are very complicated and extremely important issues, and if we simplified and shortened it too much then farmers wouldn’t be getting the whole story. So we tried to strike a balance – covering all the bases and including all the essential information, but pointing people towards other documents for the additional detail rather than including it in this one. We tested it out on a couple of real people too, before it was finalised.
I hope we got the balance about right, that you found it useful, and that if you haven’t already responded to the Pillar 1 consultation, you’ll do so this week.