By Vicki Swales, Head of Land Use Policy, RSPB Scotland
Does Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment in Scotland, want the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to promote greener farming? Or does he need some gentle persuading?
On past performance, we think the latter, which is why I spent some time last week responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on CAP reform for RSPB Scotland. Not the most exciting thing on my ‘to do’ list but absolutely vital if wildlife friendly farming is to get the support it deserves. The consultation takes the form of three questionnaires which ask whether you agree or disagree with proposed changes to the CAP. There’s a lot of technical detail but one or two key questions on which we want Mr Lochhead to get some clear answers.
The more people respond, the louder the message will be. If you want your voice to be heard – and why not since the CAP is funded by taxpayers hard earned money – you can find the questionnaires here .
If there’s one key question to answer, you’ll find it in the ‘direct payments’ questionnaire in the second section. It asks ‘Do you agree that 30% of Scotland’s direct support budget should be devoted towards Greening the CAP?’ Highlighting the ‘Strongly Agree’ answer will send the right message to Richard Lochhead. You can select ‘Neither agree/disagree’ or ‘I don’t know’ for all the rest of the techy questions unless, of course, you have a view on these. You’ll need to do it before 24th April for your views to be registered.
Alternatively, and perhaps more straight forward, is to write directly to Richard Lochhead . You can tell him in your own words why you want him to support a greener CAP and to ensure that more of the funds are used to help Scotland’s High Nature Value farming and crofting systems. Wildlife friendly farmers, and birds such as the elusive corncrake and insects such as the rare Great Yellow Bumblebee which depend on them, will thank you.