Brian Pack Interim Report.
The main thrust of the Brian Pack Inquiry Interim report is that future agricultural support should consist of four strands:
- direct payments
- a top-up fund
- rural development programme funding
- Less Favoured Area (LFA) support
The report argues for the need for direct support to agriculture to ensure a viable production industry that can meet the many demands on it. On the basis of the evidence received, the Inquiry examines an area base for direct payments but flags up the considerable financial redistribution between farms of the same type and between regions that would be needed under a move from historic to area-based payments. It identifies that the more intensive livestock farms will be hardest hit.
The Inquiry will commission more work on this issue and will benefit from the consultation.
The concept of a top-up fund financed directly by money from the direct payment budget is new and, if Scotland wished to adopt it, would need to be argued for in the CAP reform negotiations. The fund would be used as the basis for an outcome-based contract between producers and Scottish society - the aim of which is to achieve transformational change to increase farming's efficiency and sustainability.
The proposed fund might, depending on feedback from the consultation process, be divided between producers in proportion to their direct area payment or, possibly, use some of the money for sectoral specific schemes - the successors to Article 68.
The Inquiry recommends that, to be effective, the top-up fund would need to be about 50 per cent of the amount paid out as a direct area payment but, again, the consultation will gather views.
The report provides an illustration of an area-based scheme, not to suggest that it is the way forward but to provide a context for the consultation on the types of decision that will need to be made and an example of the relative area payments.