European policy consultants
Rural development and renewable energy

Richard Lochhead sets out the case for continuing coupled payments in Scotland

The latest agricultural census in Scotland highlights the need for continuing Common Agricultural Policy coupled payments, sais Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, commenting on the June 2012 Scottish Agricultural Census.

The figures show a decrease in the number of cattle, sheep and pigs although cereal areas increased.

Among the key points in the 2012 statistics for Scotland were:
Cereal area increased by 10,600 hectares (2.4 per cent) to 457,700 hectares
The poultry flock increased by 167,600 (1.2 per cent) to 14.69 million
The number of cattle decreased by 15,500 (0.9 per cent) to 1.79 million
The number of sheep fell by 65,200 (one per cent) to 6.74 million
The number of people employed in Scottish agriculture rose to 68,400 – up 630
Over 1,500 heads of farm businesses took up that position in the past ten years, with 32 per cent of them taking on their farm business in the past two years

Mr Lochhead said:

"the numbers do reinforce the need for continuing coupled payments and we will fight to ensure these vital payments remain part of the Common Agricultural Policy... we need to maintain a healthy livestock sector and that means we need producers to have the confidence to plan for the long term."

The exchange rate to be used for the 2012 Single Farm Payment Scheme is €1 = £0.79805, as in England. The exchange rate used is that set by the European Central Bank and has fallen when compared with last year.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“The fall in the sterling / euro exchange rate is not unexpected given the continuing difficulties in financial markets. It is yet another reminder, if one was needed, that Scotland’s farmers operate in an international context.

“I know that support payments are vital for many of our farmers and they will be eagerly anticipating the start of payments in December. We are working hard to ensure that farmers receive their payments as early as possible and farmers can help with this by responding promptly to any queries they may receive from Scottish Government officials.”

The rate for all direct payments is calculated on the last working day of September. The rate used in 2011 was £0.86665: the 2012 rate, therefore, represents a decrease of around 8 per cent.