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Scottish Union Meets New Agricultural Commissioner

15 February 2010

SCOTLAND, UK - National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland exchanged views on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) with the newly appointed EU Agriculture Commissioner, Dacian Cioloş, at a meeting in Brussels last week.

The Commissioner addressed a meeting of European farm union leaders, staged by COPA-COGECA, the umbrella organisation for farming unions and co-operatives. Top of his agenda will be ongoing discussions on the reform of the CAP post-2013.

During the meeting, NFU Scotland Chief Executive James Withers was able to question Commissioner Cioloş about CAP reform before having the opportunity at the end of the event for a brief discussion on the issue, and its impact on Scottish farmers and crofters. It is hoped that the new Commissioner will take up invitations to visit Scotland in the near future.

Speaking from Brussels, James Withers said: "The Commissioner was keen to stress in all our discussions that he is approaching the new job with an open mind. He is a supporter of a common agricultural policy but wants the industry to approach reform with a positive - not defensive - mindset, highlighting the clear benefits of public funding going into agriculture and the need to safeguard a viable and competitive EU agricultural sector.

"It was clear from the meeting that there is a significant groundswell of support across Europe for ensuring that public money is targeted at those who are actively contributing to farming and food production. I asked the Commissioner specifically about this issue and he recognised that it would undoubtedly have to be part of the post-2013 CAP debate.

“The French, in particular, share Scottish concerns around the current system's failure to protect food production activity - a message also taken up by Greek and Italian representatives. The French want greater tools to deliver production-linked support. How that squares off with the desire of others to ensure as much commonality across member states remains to be seen. It is clear that other real tensions exist. The most obvious of these will revolve around the call from the new member states for a flatter system of payments; a move which, in essence, means money moving from West to East across Europe.

"Scotland is already involved in the CAP reform debate and the Commissioner has already received an invite to visit Scotland. Not surprisingly, he is drowning in similar invitations just now, but he hopes to come to Scotland and the rest of the UK shortly. That would be good news. Having enjoyed an excellent relationship with his predecessor, Mariann Fischer Boel, which saw the former Commissioner in Scotland on several occasions, it would be fantastic if we could develop a similar rapport with Commissioner Cioloş.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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