Following announcements about modulation rates in England and Wales, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is urging policymakers to ensure that the enlarged Pillar Two pot is put to the most effectiveuse to directly support farming businesses.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “While it is encouraging that Owen Paterson has opted for 12% modulation in England, the NSA is aware that this decision, and the one made by Alun Davies in Wales to adopt the maximum rate allowed of 15%, will create much concern among the many sheep farmers whose businesses rely heavily on their Single Farm Payment.
“Even Richard Lochhead’s decision in Scotland to opt for 9.5% is much higher than many other European member states, leaving businesses throughout Great Britain disadvantage compared to other EU farmers.
“Now the decisions have been made, we call on Owen Paterson and Alun Davies to ensure the absolute maximum of modulated money is made available directly to farm businesses, not in a way that offsets ‘income foregone’ but in a way that incentivises farming to become more resilient for the future. It is absolutely vital to ensure the most effective use is made of Pillar Two funding and this is why the NSA has been working hard for more than 12 months developing thinking around a Rural Development Programme (RDP) scheme that would keep Pillar Two money within the direct farm economy.
“It is essential Rural Development Programmes are designed so a larger proportion of funds are directly available to farmers and not lost to bureaucracy or more peripheral rural projects.
“Competitiveness is one of the RDP priorities and the NSA draws a close link between competitiveness, efficiency, resource use and the environment.
“We know that increasing efficiency reduces carbon footprints and, therefore, incentivising on-farm efficiency is one way to increase productivity and reduce the environmental impact.
“The NSA has proposed that Pillar Two funds be directly available to livestock farmers in return for employing a range of animal health and disease prevention approaches.
“This would include dynamic health planning, involvement in disease accreditation and monitoring schemes, disease or parasite eradication plans, contributing to national disease surveillance and the use of effective quarantine procedures – examples of many of the things we know would reduce sheep losses, avoid wasting resources such as feed and other inputs, and ultimately reduce calls on the public purse through higher health status.”
The NSA first proposed its RDP animal health scheme at the Sheep Health and Welfare Group’s conference in November 2013. Since then it has been widely discussed with other stakeholders and policymakers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.