Scotland's only voice on the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith MEP has today (Tuesday) pressed EU farm commissioner Phil Hogan on cross-compliance and warned that future CAP reform must prioritise a clearer and more straightforward system.
The exchange of views in the Committee was a discussion of proposals from MEPs sent to the Commissioner in response to his call for practical ideas on simplification. He announced a two-year relaxation of penalties while the new system beds in, and a month-long delay in the deadline for farmers to get their application forms in.
Alyn recently sent a dossier of suggestions to the Commissioner after his own consultation with Scotland's farmers, as well as a copy of the Pack report. The Commissioner has confirmed that he will be at the Highland Show this summer.
Speaking after the meeting, Alyn said:
"Having worked on, and voted for, the CAP reform now being implemented, I cannot walk away from my responsibility for this complex system. There are things we can do to simplify the CAP, but looking forward towards the mid term review in 2017 and indeed the next round of CAP reform in 2019, I think we need to learn lessons, and start with a fresh sheet of paper.
"All of us will need to step up and raise our game. Member states, industry and others were quick to call for flexibility and exceptional cases for particular sectors or geographies, but now the same people are slamming the complexity they helped create.
"I was glad to hear the Commissioner's response on cross-compliance penalties, and I will make sure that dialogue continues. Much as the two-year relaxation of penalties is welcome, two years will flash by fast enough and the system itself remains a concern."