Smith And New Entrants' Representative Meet Commission On Single Farm Payment Equality

24 March 2011
Alyn Smith MEP and Roger McCall of the New Entrants Forum have met with senior Commission officials responsible for the future of the Single Farm Payment to discuss opportunities to provide equality of access to farmers who have started farming since the reference period for historic payments in 2003.
In a full and frank exchange of views, the disadvantages faced by new entrants were aired, and options for potential avenues of assisting new entrants were discussed.

Smith said:

"That was a useful and constructive meeting, and clearly we now need to feed back the results to mission control in Edinburgh. I'm delighted Roger was able to take time out from lambing and calving to so forcefully present his case.

"I am glad to see that the Commission are fully aware of the real handicaps which new entrants face, and are seized of the need to urgently reform the system. The market in entitlements is not working to support active farming as it should.  While this will, to an extent, resolve itself as the new CAP comes in after 2013, there is a pressing problem now and it is right we look at all our options.  

"New entrants are eager to produce the food and public goods that we need but they compete for entitlement on a playing field which is anything but level. That's just not right - so I was pleased that the Commission are clearly determined to find the right solution for the next reform of the regulation in 2013, so that new entrants have the same rights as other farmers from day one.

"Amending the regulation itself before 2013 is not on the cards, but we do have other options. We can find innovative solutions using the current laws to favour active farmers. Again, the Commission proved most helpful in this regard, and I will be writing to the Scottish Government regarding our discussions on the definition of active farming, and the possibility of transferring money from entitlement transfers to a National Reserve. Of course, these proposals must be investigated thoroughly, to prevent any more unwanted side effects.

"This has too often been portrayed as a case of farmer versus farmer, but existing holders of SFP entitlements who actively farm the land have nothing to fear from reform. Assisting eager new entrants who want to contribute to our agricultural and climate goals can only be good for Scotland."