David Barnes is the Scottish Government’s Deputy Director for Agriculture and Rural Development. He sits with his Minister around the Council of Agricultural Ministers’ table as the negotiations on the shape of the CAP2020 take place and, more interestingly, he blogs about it. His blog gives an insider’s view and a personal perspective on what is going on during the course of the negotiations. Not surprisingly, his posts give some fascinating insights into the process.
The complexity of the CAP 2020 fineprint was demonstrated in one of his recent posts which addressed issues for new entrants that might arise under the Commission’s proposal for the allocation of entitlements under a new direct payments scheme. Written from the Scottish point of view, it illustrates the intricacies of developing legislation to cover all eventualities across all member states.
For example, the specific measure giving rise to the first difficulty he mentions for new entrants, the requirement that farmers receiving entitlements in 2014 should have activated at least one entitlement in 2011, was inserted into the Commission proposal at the last minute under pressure from the Irish. Most land renting in Ireland takes place on a very short-term basis (often less than 12 months). The Irish government was concerned that the 2014 date for allocating new entitlements would lead to the seizing up of the land rental market. Landlords would have an incentive to hold on to their land rather than rent it out in order to gain access to entitlements in 2014; the requirement to have activated at least one entitlement in 2011 was an attempt to diminish this incentive.
I reproduce the substance of David Barnes’ post in full here.
Problem 1: Commission proposals say that only farmers who activated at least one Single Farm Payment entitlement in 2011 will be automatically given entitlements. That means new entrants farming in 2011 without Single Farm Payment will not automatically get entitlements, and will have to go through the National Reserve, which risks putting too much pressure on the National Reserve. Solution: we are asking for amendments saying that anyone who can demonstrate they were farming in 2011, whether or not they claimed SFP, will automatically get entitlements (provided of course they meet all the other criteria).
Problem 2: Eventually all entitlements within a region will be paid at the same rate, but the proposals say that during a transition period each entitlement will have a value based partly on the farmer’s historic SFP. This means that during the transition period, past new entrants who bought SFP entitlements, typically with low value, could end up with lower payments than post-2011 new entrants who will probably get some kind of local average through the National Reserve. Solution: we have asked for amendments enabling us to use the National Reserve to adjust the value of entitlements so as to ensure people are treated fairly.
Problem 3: The proposals describe what kind of farmer can get entitlements through the National Reserve, but we are worried that the wording is too restrictive. This could mean there are people we can’t legally give National Reserve entitlements to even though we want to. Solution: to be on the safe side, we want the wording of the National Reserve broadened to make certain we can use it for every kind of deserving case.
Problem 4: The proposals assume that once the new system has been set up, all the farmable land in a region will have entitlements, so that when a new entrant gets access to land, he/she will get access to the entitlements as well because the outgoing farmer will have nowhere to take them to. But we know that in Scotland there will be more land than entitlements. The new powers to clamp down on slipper farming will help the situation, but we cannot safely assume that we’ve seen the end of the scenario whereby a new entrant gets land but no entitlements. Solution: we are asking for the ability to run the National Reserve exercise not just at the start of the new system but also, if necessary, at intervals during the whole period to 2020.
His other posts are both entertaining and equally informative. Are there other examples of participants in the negotiations blogging in this way?
Photo credit: Dave Connor used under a Creative Commons licence.