SNP urged to 'listen carefully' to NFU Scotland proposals

Mr Chapman says a derogation of the three-crop rule would allow farmers to bale additional straw and permit the sowing of fast growing catch crops.
Mr Chapman says a derogation of the three-crop rule would allow farmers to bale additional straw and permit the sowing of fast growing catch crops.

The SNP has been urged to "listen carefully" to NFU Scotland proposals and ease the burden on toiling farmers and crofters.

North East region MSP Peter Chapman has backed calls to help agriculture recover from this year’s extreme weather, by relaxing the three-crop rule and shortening the Ecological Focus Area fallow period.

This followed the announcement of a National Basic Payment Support Scheme by the SNP this week.

But the NFUS believes the 90% loan move, identical to a scheme from 2017, does not go far enough.

And Scottish Conservative Mr Chapman has written to cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing in the hope of securing further support for farmers and crofters.

He states: “While this is a welcome move it is no more than was done last year and I therefore urge you to consider other measures to help our farmers…

“I urge you to consider the NFUS proposal that the Scottish Government request a derogation of the three-crop rule and a shortening of the Ecological Focus Area fallow period from the European Commission.

“A derogation of the three-crop rule would allow farmers to bale additional straw and permit the sowing of fast growing catch crops.

“Shortening the EFA fallow period to a period of 15 April 2019 to 15 July 2019 would allow grazing to continue on land going into fallow for an additional three months or an additional fodder crop to be grown over the autumn and winter.

“This would have a significant positive impact for our farmers’ ability to plan ahead and to alleviate the extreme shortage of winter feed.”

Mr Chapman reminded Mr Ewing of the importance of keeping prompt schedules for other kinds of payments, following the failure of the IT system set up to pass on subsidy payments from the EU.

He said: “Many farmers receive significant sums from Pillar 2 schemes (including Less Favoured Area Support Scheme, Agri-Environment Climate Schemes, Beef Efficiency Scheme) and put a significant amount of time and effort into partaking in them. They therefore deserve to be paid on time.

“Computer failings from recent years must not occur again this year.

“If there is any doubt this will happen again the Scottish Government must acknowledge it now and put alternative payment schemes in place as soon as possible.”

He added: "Farmers and crofters are looking for more than was offered by the SNP this week. The cabinet secretary must listen carefully to them or he puts a major industry at risk."