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Caithness News Bulletins June 2004

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Farming News      


Scotland’s farmers must make full use of the opportunities created by the new single payment system or face being left behind by their peers, according to industry expert Peter Cook.  That is the message the former head of the Scottish Agricultural College’s rural business unit will give when he addresses farmers at the Royal Highland Show on Thursday 24 June.

Mr Cook, who will be speaking at a special seminar hosted by leading accountancy firm Campbell Dallas, says: “Many individuals in the Agriculture sector are still unaware of the true impact of the mid-term review.

“Of course there will be winners and losers under the new system, but it is important that people understand how to make the most of the alterations.

“Due to the implementation of the Single payment system, farmers will be free from the restrictions and ties of the current subsidy regime. This will in turn allow them to re-design systems to offer better efficiency or completely restructure their businesses.

“Farmers have a choice – do they keep systems as they are now and eat into their Single Farm Payment to cover the deficit, or do they look for new ways of operating to ensure there is a farm profit - or at least break-even - without subsidy, hence leaving their Single Payment intact? We need to look hard at simplifying our livestock systems and we have the opportunity to plant more specialised, obscure crops for niche markets, without harming subsidy income. Overall the mid-term review presents us with lots of opportunities as well as challenges.”

As a result of the new single payment and decoupling system, the review constitutes the biggest change to Scotland’s Agriculture sector for more than a decade.

It has the potential to dramatically alter traditional farming methods, allowing individuals greater freedom to diversify and increasing farmers’ commercial options – both within agri-business and beyond.

Under the new rules farmers will be better placed to diversify and can use their single payment not only to enhance their current operations but to branch out into other sectors, such as retailing or leisure, by using the subsidy to off-set the cost of changing the way they use part of their land.

“A large number of our clients are in the Agricultural sector, so we feel it is essential they fully appreciate the benefits the mid-term review will make available,” added Ian Williams, Senior Partner at Campbell Dallas’ Perth office.

“The review offers farmers real scope for diversification and they can look to use their core farming business as a platform on which to build. Running a farm is just like managing any other business and farmers can use their existing skills to experiment in other sectors.”