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Final Report Of Pack Inquiry

04 November 2010

SCOTLAND, UK - The Pack Inquiry was commissioned by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead in June 2009 to examine agricultural subsidy and consider how best future support should be tailored to deliver a sustainable sector.

Mr Lochhead said: "We set out a vision for the agricultural sector in Scotland that is based on a productive, market orientated approach where the industry uses our natural resources sustainably and receives recognition for the many public benefits it provides.

"This analysis supports the Scottish Government's vision and stresses the need to take into account features unique to Scotland. Importantly, it is the product of wide consultation and debate with the agriculture sector and wider rural Scotland.

"It has been one of the most thorough pieces of work ever undertaken into farming support and has already caught the attention of Brussels.

"Today is a hugely important milestone in a long journey, that will include several years of negotiation. I urge stakeholders to look at the big picture and engage with us on the principles the inquiry has set out. I will now carefully reflect on Brian Pack's recommendations and work in partnership with our rural communities to deliver the best outcome for Scotland.

"I pay tribute to Brian Pack and his team. I am confident that this powerful and ambitious report provides the ideal backdrop for some of the big decisions and hard negotiations that lie ahead for Scotland."

The inquiry contains 40 specific recommendations which include:

  • Basing future support on Less Favoured Area (LFA) Status to compensate farmers for the higher costs involved in meeting regulatory requirements.

  • Farmers in LFA would be eligible for an area-based payment, a top-up payments and headage payments. Farmers in non-LFA would be eligible for area based and a top up payments.

  • Introducing a new Scottish Beef Calf Scheme and lamb headage scheme.

  • A Top Up fund to encourage competitiveness and help farmers tackle food security, climate change, biodiversity, and water and energy supply.

A spokesman for the European Commission said: "We welcome the fact that Scotland has carried out this serious study into what future farm policy should look like.

"The Pack report, and others like it, will make a valuable contribution to Europe's work on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy."

National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland has welcomed the report. However, it has urged that minds remain open on delivery options. The Union says that the main negotiating lines for the Scottish Government and industry are close to being established, but how they translate into future schemes on the ground is still unknown and all options need to remain on the table.

Speaking at the Report’s launch in Perth, NFUS President Jim McLaren said: “I commend Brian for his work in pulling together this report which moves the debate around future support arrangements for Scotland to another level. Importantly, this has put us in the vanguard of the CAP reform debate going on across Europe.

"The reality is we are two years away from a political deal on the CAP and the budget issue – both its size and distribution across Europe – remains up in the air. There are three other UK regions, 26 other Member States and over 700 MEPs all to have their say as part of this process.

“I would therefore urge farmers and government to avoid getting a fixed view in their minds on exactly the scheme we want just now. The battle for principles has still to be won in Brussels. Once that is achieved, the options for delivery will be clearer.

Whilst voicing some concerns, Mr McLaren says that the detail will come later.

"What we have now is a massively important contribution to the CAP debate, which has impact at an EU level. The debate over delivery will continue over the next two years, but I believe Brian Pack has now provided a set of headline principles we can all get behind, develop further and pursue in Brussels.”

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