The long-awaited details of the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) reform package will be announced in the Scottish Parliament next week.
Farm minister Richard Lochhead will finally set out the details of how the new Cap will be implemented in Scotland on Wednesday June 11.
Industry had expected the package to be announced at the Royal Highland Show the following week, however Mr Lochhead yesterday said he had brought forward the date so government could “give clarity to industry”.
He described the decision as the most difficult he has had to make during his time as farm minister and said the challenge would be balancing the demands of the sector with his ability to deliver a new policy on the ground.
“I am confident that the announcements will deliver many measures that will drive Scottish agriculture forward but of course it’s a major redistribution of much of the funding given the radical change going from an historic basis to area basis,” said Mr Lochhead at the Scotsheep event in Berwickshire yesterday.
“Therefore it’s been an incredibly complex few weeks and months to try work through the detail of how we can, to some extent, put the square peg into a round hole.”
He said the “one remaining part of the jigsaw” he needed to have in place ahead of next week’s announcement was how to deal with the rough grazing region (RGR).
Mr Lochhead added: “In these final days we are continuing very intense discussions with the industry because I have to balance the outcomes for Scottish agriculture plc with the outcome that we have a policy that we have to deliver on the ground.”
He pledged to leave no stone unturned and said he had already “formed views” on many of the key issues surrounding the implementation of Cap reform.
“We have a policy to implement in Scotland which has been agreed in Europe where we have very little options to tie funding directly to production,” added Mr Lochhead.
“We absolutely must deliver a system that is on time and is not brought to its knees by complexity, otherwise we will be back here in a year’s time and you will be knocking on my door for not delivering payments.