Stability and simplicity: proposals for a rural funding transition period

Consultation to gather views on the proposals for the Brexit transition period in the agricultural sector.

8. Overall Aims and Principles of the Implementation / Transition Period

Our aims can be summarised in four key principles:

  • Stability – land managers need stability and confidence to invest in their businesses and thereby deliver public benefit. Systems must be able to cope while the wider policy landscape changes. There should be no major scheme changes in the near future and no rolling back of environmental standards.
  • Simplicity – opportunities to simplify the customer compliance burden, operating methods and to reduce costs should be encouraged, subject to achieving the other principles.
  • Sustainability – Tourism, timber and food production are key sectors of our economy with potential for growth in both home and export markets. Any change in our approach to providing support should take us closer to a comprehensive new rural policy which helps to protect and enhance the natural assets on which our farming and other rural industries depend and to contribute to Scotland's world leading climate change ambitions, also promoting efficient and innovative rural businesses and thriving rural communities.
  • Security – our decisions should continue to support the secure production of food through effective animal traceability, good welfare of animals, environmental protection and other public benefit outcomes.

Our priority for agriculture and rural development is to provide stability and security for producers, land managers and businesses while at the same time maintaining environmental standards and making changes that will help set the sector on the right path towards decarbonisation.

Where possible, we will also seek to simplify the application processes for government funding and related control requirements and explore the scope for reducing the compliance burden without impacting on the public goods we expect to see delivered.

It would be an explicit aim of the transition period to avoid major new initiatives and changes to existing schemes, except where these demonstrably achieve the aims above. However, it is our ambition that some of the key recommendations from the CAP Greening Group and Agriculture Champions' final reports can be taken forward, in consultation with those affected. We would welcome views on this general approach.

During the transition period, the intention is that farmers and crofters currently entitled to CAP Pillar 1 support will continue to receive support, subject to the overall financial settlement which will determine future policy and funding options.

We will in due course consult more fully on the detailed options for Pillar II funding from 2020-2024 but we would also seek to provide stability and simplification to current recipients of support from Pillar II schemes and only seek to make straightforward changes that help to improve delivery of policy outcomes.

This approach is deliberately intended to help farmers, crofters and other land managers to also diversify their businesses and develop opportunities to integrate into a wider rural economy, enhance their role as stewards of our natural environment, and embrace an integrated approach to land use which seeks to deliver multiple benefits from the land. It also seeks to mitigate the risk of land abandonment and to provide the continuity of land maintenance required to deliver the policy priorities outlined above for example by ensuring continued support for high nature value farming systems on marginal land.

The Scottish Government also seeks through this approach to support farmers considering leaving or retiring from the industry and to provide accessible opportunity for those wishing to become part of a rapidly evolving sector.


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