Crofters are “between a rock and a hard place” says the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) in its response to the ‘mini-consultation’ regarding the transfer of CAP funds between ‘pillars’.
“Though this may have been called a ‘mini-consultation’”, said SCF’s Chief Executive Patrick Krause, “it was a very difficult one to respond to due to the paradox of the situation. The principle of moving money into the Scotland Rural Development Programme, where most of the schemes that should be supporting crofting and the environment, such as the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS), the Crofting Counties Agricultural Grant Scheme (CCAGS) and agri-environment measures are found, seems a no-brainer. But the reality is that LFASS in Scotland is designed to pay higher rates per hectare to the better off land; the government wants to open CCAGS to non-crofters; and the agri-environment schemes have been syphoning the money away from the crofting counties, where most of the High Nature Value areas are.”
An overall objective of the CAP reform, the European Commission has said, is to move money away from direct payments and into rural development, where it can be targeted to achieve specific social and environmental outcomes. With Scotland receiving the lowest rural development payments in Europe, it does seem anomalous that the full 15% transfer of funds allowable from agricultural direct payments (pillar 1) to rural development (pillar 2) is being questioned and Scottish Government is minded to only transfer 9.5%.