New Entrants Group
jims speech at new entrants summit 12/9/12 
Good morning and thank you to all that have given up their time to attend todays summit. One of the main elements to any successful business is direct profitability. For the agricultural industry the climatic challenges we face verses the price our product is worth in the market place, means that profitability is marginal at best. The Scottish governments own economic figures suggest this to be the case on almost all LFA farm accounts, namely 85% of Scotland’s total farming landmass. For these farms to exist and be profitable they need external funding. The main source of this external funding is approx £500 million pounds of pillar 1 support which flows to people who hold agricultural entitlements. On the surface that sounds great...500 million distributed to help Scotland’s farmers through economic difficulty/uncertainty. However, the reality is that the farmers who have started in the last 10 years, the new entrants, get little if any of this funding. That’s because the money is distributed via entitlements handed out based on activity in 2001-2. New entrants to agriculture do not automatically receive these entitlements as their established neighbours did. To put it in average terms for a 100 hectare farm, the loss of income is approx 25-30,000 annually. Extend that sum over many years of activity and soon the picture develops of how Scottish agriculture is now in 2012,, a 2 tier society-namely the established farmers of pre 2001 who have the ability to grow and develop their farms as they see fit using the latest technology, innovation, science, genetics funded by pillar 1and pillar2 srdp support,, and in the 2nd tier those farms who through lack of pillar 1 funding sit in a comparable financial stagnation........ By 2015 we estimate that over 15% of Scotlands’ farmers, the new entrants, will be in this second tier In 2009 a supposed’ health check’ simply ratified the apartheid nature of the scheme which distributed this pillar 1 support, because there was no voice to put forward the needs of the new farmers in this country. For many new entrants, that lack of representation created frustration..., mistrust..., and a sense of abandonment, feelings which to a large extent, still remain. At this time in autumn 2009 cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead commissioned the Pack enquiry into the future of agricultural support. My pal Ian and I went to those road show events which gathered evidence for the inquiry, and we were horrified at the total lack of support shown by established businesses towards new entrants farming with little or no pillar 1 funding. The feeling we both came away with was we’re alright Jack and stuff you. It was at this point we decided that without a group specifically dedicated to campaigning for new entrants, our voices would be lost in the crowd. With some good coverage from the agricultural press the NEG was formed and our journey had begun. Richard Lochhead quickly got in contact with us and arranged a meeting to discuss how he could help and also to get a better understanding of the problems these new businesses were facing, furthermore he had endorsed the fact that Brian Pack had taken Johnny Mackie a genuine new entrant onto his enquiry team showing his commitment to tackle the issues facing the youth of our agricultural industry .At last the new entrants had some direct input into the decision makers of Scottish agriculture .Shortly after our meeting with Richard Lochhead we met with government officials in Edinburgh, as far as I was concerned I had the whole thing sussed all that was needed was to get the entitlements back off those that. claimed naked acres ,and redistribute this then projected 30 million or so back to the new entrants simples!. That was the start of realising that things would never be simples in politics, to start with I found out that Scotland had to go through Westminister and then Europe before anything could be done or passed, then it would have to use certain articles in euro legislation to create a national reserve-the very thing that our stakeholders had decided was unnecessary back in 2004. I guess the one positive thing to come out of this initial meeting was we were invited onto the cap stakeholder group. At the end of 2010 the main focus of our group was to find out the true extent of the new entrant problem. In order to provide a solution we needed the numbers behind the headlines. This process was exhaustive and far from simple but one which finally bore fruit on march 1st this year when along with the cabinet secretary Lochhead we organised a meeting at the Scottish parliament, attended by Alyn Smith, several msps and 4 agricultural stakeholder representatives. The figures we saw that day revealed that annually between 2006-2010 an average increase of about 300 new businesses had declared livestock on their saf forms but had claimed no sfp. Widen those reference years from the pre 2004 anomalies up to 2011 including unsupported sectors and you will get some feeling as to the scale of the problem, and the need for action. One action point that the NEG forwarded at the meeting was for an official invite to be given to eu agricultural officials to visit Scotland, so that they could visit new entrant farms and discuss with the Scottish government details of possible solutions to new entrant issues during the 2013 CAP reforms, especially the proposed double gate entry system into future pillar 1 support. This EU proposal if unchanged would mean that all these new entrant businesses that had not claimed sfp in 2011 would again be excluded from the next payment regime til 2020 and beyond. Alyn Smith MEP played a major role in making this vital EU visit happen on 28-9th june this year. Following on from that visit the Scottish Government formulated a number of amendments, specifically relating to new entrant issues. These amendments were then tabled at the EU by Alyn Smith along with other Scotland specific amendments before the cut off deadline of july 14th this year. During the early days of the NEG Brian Pack advised us to “ask for things which are reasonable”. Today, the new entrant community believe it is reasonable to ask a devolved Scottish government that on the 1st of January 2015, when Europe brings in new subsidy rules,, the whole of Scottish agriculture is on a level playing field with PILLAR 1 support, or to put it another way,, new entrants are given equality with our neighbours. The EU representatives’ visit to Scotland in June of this year, shed light on many pillar 1 funding issues but I wish to focus your attention on the one major conclusion from that visit. Cabinet secretary, members of the audience. There will never be equality, nor anything resembling equality in pillar 1 support for new entrants, until every fragment of the historic base is completely and utterly erased, and Scotland implements the single area payment scheme..SAPS. What are the main obstacles to achieving equality? Firstly Europe will not allow the issuing of fresh historic parish average entitlements to new entrants. By 2015 they would be 13 years out of date. Secondly, the new entrant specific amendments which have been tabled in Europe, will not deliver equality. We view them as a safety net. A safety net which does away with the double gate entry fears new entrants have, and a safety net which if implemented, will offer approx £100 per hectare entitlements in addition to top ups. That £100 per hectare amount is calculated by using the average value of total entitlement, paid across the whole of Scotland, as opposed to the average payment in any particular region. For new entrants farming in the active areas of Scotland, these entitlements if issued, would typically provide a move of approximately 30% towards the level of entitlement the established farmers get. Cabinet secretary before this safety net new entrants had little hope, and so we are thankful for the hope these amendments bring, and also thankful for your desire to see positive things happen, but you will understand today that I cannot and will not claim that these amendments will create an equal or level playing field in pillar 1 support. Third, The main obstacle to equality is a phase in period from 2015 onward. New entrants ask “Why do these established businesses need a phase in period? 10 years ago Ross Finnie told these same businesses to adjust their business plans by being more market orientated using their historical SFP payment to accomplish this transition through time. In 2010 Brian Pack clarified those warnings- prepare for change in 3 years. That time will be extended by a further year to 4 years warning, more than enough time for any business to change. Yet in 2012 the cry wolf scenario continues, we need a phase in. Remember also, many of these original businesses have scaled back their production levels, others have ceased farming altogether, is it right that these individuals continue to reap the benefits of what they were doing 12 years ago , not just in relation to what happens with new entrants but in the way tax payers money is knowingly wasted. Til now the rural communities, our customers and consumers have been told its the rules, its the eu, we want to change but we cant. That excuse runs dry on hogmany 2014. The eyes of a new entrant are always to the future, never the past, the place for things which are historic is a museum, not a flagship rural affairs policy. That is why new entrants want the end of a scheme which is corrupt, so that we can begin anew with something which is transparent and accountable. Something that would give us hope for the future, and not only those farmers already in the system but those waiting to get the opportunity to join. During the previous years much has been written and said about providing easier access into the agricultural industry for new entrants. In the NEG’s opinion, and WE ARE ALL NEW ENTRANTS, the main thing that is needed for a new entrant to successfully start out in agriculture is, to be on a level playing field for Pillar 1 SUPPORT with existing farmers from day one of the commencement of their business. All other issues should take second place to this. Today the challenge is to leave aside the vested interests, and come together as an industry to sort out the problems we currently have, and make sure that the future farmers in Scotland never encounter the problems and unfairness we have suffered as new entrants during the last 10 years. Members of the audience, the comments that I have uttered today are the result of a 3 year journey for the new entrants group. Today, for us this summit is just another piece of the jigsaw fitting together. In many ways we are glad that a new entrant’s panel has been set up, for if and its a big if, it delivers what its name suggests, it will continue the work the new entrant group has started.. For new entrants to support it, the panel needs to be a haven where policy is made by new entrants for new entrants to enable the new entrant community in Scotland not just to exist but to flourish. However, if it becomes a quango existing only to extend the tentacles of influence of the stakeholder groups for the furtherance of their vested interests,, then new entrants will not support or recognise it. Thank you for listening today and I hope the coffee you just had has helped keep you awake!

Posted at: Wed, 03 Oct 2012 12:42:18 +0100

Sept 12th 2012 is the date set for the new entrants summit. the summit hosted by cabinet secretary richard lochhead will see the commencement of the 'new entrants panel' which will ensure future scottish government agricultural policy includes input from new entrant farmers.New entrants group spokesperson jim simmons has been asked to speak at the event.

Posted at: Sun, 02 Sep 2012 21:43:23 +0100

Ec visit 
the new entrants group conducted a series of meetings with EEC representitive andreas lillig and scottish government officials on28-29th june. the meeting produced a much greater understanding of what is achievable from our perspective re pillar 1 support in post 2014 reforms. as a follow on from these meetings, the scottish goverment has made new entrant specific amendments to ec post 2014 legislation proposals currently undergoing discussion at the european parliament..

Posted at: Sun, 02 Sep 2012 21:21:04 +0100

EU Officials To Meet New Entrants 
EU officials have confirmed their intention to visit Scotland to meet/ hold discussions with new entrant farmers and RPID officials. The meetings will take place on the 28& 29 june 2012.

Posted at: Wed, 23 May 2012 11:19:58 +0100

Meetings With Government Officials Continue 
the new entrants group policy committee are due to meet with senior RPID officials in the coming days to continue discussions on the new cap arrangement. This is the continuation of meetings/dialogue which has been ongoing over recent months and years.

Posted at: Wed, 23 May 2012 11:01:19 +0100

Meeting with Alyn Smith MEP and EU commission 
Roger McCall from the new entrants forum has met with Alyn Smith and EU officials in brussels on march 23rd 2011 to discuss the issue of urgent need to get financial support to new entrants in scottish agriculture. The points discussed are as follows:- Financial help is needed for sfp anomalies before the implementation of the eu rules in scheme year 2015. Currently it is more financially viable for new entrants to sell their livestock and purchase entitlements. This would in effect lead to a greater level of land abandonment. Sfp anomalies include both new entrants post 2004 and some farmers whose businesses were started before 2004. It is regional responsibility ie scotgov, who determine the definition of new entrants Post 2011 new entrants can be funded out of a national reserve as well as 2004-2010 new entrants after the current scheme ends. A siphon could be introduced on entitlement transfer to fund a nat up to 30% It was thought that the money needed to fund a proper national reserve would not be provided by the entitlement trading alone. Entitlement trading may be greatly reduced as the result of a syphon. This would in effect further decrease the potential nat res monies. New entrants cannot be expected to purchase their own entitlements as the current level of financial borrowing needed in livestock and machinery re business set up costs, prohibits the further purchase of entitlements. Sfp entitlements which are able to be purchased at a level of 1.5 times their value are much lower than a typical parish average. Average value entitlements currently cost over 2 times their value. SFP investors control the sfp marketplace. Inactive land can be annually rented at 7- 10 euros a hectare. In 2009 the value of entitlements activated by barren land (inactive land) was 30 million euros annually. This value increases year on year. Limited help to new entrants is given in the srdp interest rate relief scheme. However the debt levels needed to activate the payment ceiling are unlikely to be reached by most new entrants. Sfp regionalization of payments ie prohibiting of payments being moved from north to south etc could have avoided a large percentage of naked acre payments. However it was not activated by scotgov during the health check in 2009. Article 28 could not be used in Scotland to reduce the level of inactive land activating payments. A paper written by eu auditors on the subject of entitlements being claimed on inactive land is to be published soon. Eu auditors dissuaded scotgovs attempts to use minimum stocking density as a way of tightening the rules on land used for naked acres. Scotland decided not to use article 68 as it was not appropriate. Going back to change any part of legislation in document 73/2009 is thought unlikely. ALTHOUGH IT WAS NOT RULED OUT.

Posted at: Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:43:04 +0100

Brian Pack Review 
On Friday 25th July, Brian Pack made his short term reccomendations to the scottish government and various stakeholder groups including our own group.If you want to read the whole report then you can see it online, it will be on the scottish government website . I will give you a summery of the issues that affect us as a group . On agricultural activity he has reccomended that only land in prodution will be eligable for sfp. A minimum stocking density of 0.06 l.u./ha on lfa ground and 1 l.u./ha on non lfa ground will be a requirement of geac. farmers falling short of this requirement will have 60 days to rectify the situation.Later in the report he goes on to suggest that rpid inspections should identify those most likely to be in breach of the rules by looking at lack of grazing likelyhood by using the information on saf forms .Although there is currently no way of getting payment to new entrants before 2013 he asks that the scottish government treats as priority the introdution of regulations in the post 2013 cap that puts new entrants on an equal footing with businesses eastablished before 2004. He goes on to ask that the scottish government should extend its review of the rural priorities scoring sytem to investigate the possibility of changing it so that it favours those entering farming since 2004.

Posted at: Sun, 27 Jun 2010 20:17:46 +0100