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Reforms must not ignore the needs of isles farmers, says McArthur

Responding to publication of the European Commission’s formal proposals on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) today, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said: “After months of leaks and speculation, we now have the detail of the Commission’s proposals on the future of farm support and rural development.  There are no real surprises, but a number of significant challenges lie ahead if Orkney’s needs are to be safeguarded under the new regime.

“A move to area-based payments is inevitable now, with additional funding to support specific activities.  It is essential that the criteria for these top-up funds enable farmers, crofters  and those managing land in Orkney to gain access to them.  Flexibility in the way the reforms are implemented will be key, not just within the UK, but also within Scotland.

“The long-standing issue of penalties also must be addressed as part of this reform package.  Those who seek to defraud the public purse should be dealt with severely.  But making no distinction between fraud and administrative error is unfair and disproportionate.

“There is a long way to go before the reform proposals are finally agreed.  Given the new-found importance of the European Parliament in these negotiations, I will be working closely with my colleague, George Lyon MEP, as well as the local industry in Orkney to make sure the needs of isles farmers are reflected in the final agreement”.