Smith Urges Support for SNP Vision of Agriculture Reform

18 November 2008
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today called on colleagues to unite around the compromise package on the Common Agricultural Policy "Healthcheck", due to be finally voted upon in Strasbourg tomorrow. The package was debated in Strasbourg this morning (Tuesday).

Mr Smith and colleagues have a number of amendments on the order paper tomorrow, key amongst them proposals to:delete progressive modulation;delete coupled beef and sheep payments;retain cross compliance measures by including Wild Birds Directive and Flora and Fauna Directive in statutory management requirements as it is in the current CAP legislation; anddelete tobacco payments.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Smith said:

"The Healthcheck was only ever supposed to be just that: a healthcheck to tidy up anything that needed it, but not to open up the CAP to yet more massive reform at a time when Scotland's farmers and growers are only just adjusting to the last round of changes.

"That is not to say that reform is not needed however, but those discussions are beginning in earnest now as the Healthcheck is almost behind us. I voted against the compromise package in Committee on the basis that the opportunities to tidy up, simplify and cut red tape were not taken, but since then a number of provisions have been taken out and I will, on balance, hopefully be able to support the package tomorrow. We then need to start thinking some big thoughts about the future of EU Agriculture, and that was the thrust of my speech today.

"Of key concern to me in the vote will, of course, be my own amendments on a number of issues of clear relevance to Scotland, though the indications so far are that they will be successful but we shall see.

"I particularly value the co-operation of the Scottish Government and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland in working with me on the cross-compliance provisions. If the SNP Minister in Edinburgh tells me that a particular provision is of help in the fight against wildlifecrime, I will swing in to endeavour to keep it on the statute book and I hope we will have a positive result tomorrow."