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EU ministers agree to flexible payments move

EU agriculture ministers have agreed to allow flexible transitional arrangements for the move towards area payments for Scottish farmers that could ease the financial pain of the reformed CAP (Common Agricultural Policy).

The ministers met in Brussels on Monday to discuss a package of proposals by the Irish presidency that included the vexed issue of distributing direct payments within member states.

The legal text is fiendishly complex, but, put simply, the "jump" to the new area-based system, which the commission wanted to be 40% in the first year, could now be only 10%.

There are now different options for the end point of transition.

By 2019, a member state could choose to either have a uniform unit value per hectare for each region, or allow deviation from the average value of up to 20%, or apply the formula for external convergence to internal convergence.

Member states could also ensure internal convergence does not leave any farmer with a direct payment which falls by more than 30% in value compared to 2014.

It must be stressed these are only initial proposals and there is still a long way to go until the final agreement is negotiated.

Meanwhile, Muller Wiseman Milk Group (MWMG) has announced its intention to recruit more milk.

New suppliers to the company are to be offered an introductory 1p per litre (ppl) recruitment incentive over and above the MWMG standard price (currently 30.5ppl) for all volume produced in the first year from commencement of supply.

This introductory incentive will be paid at the end of the first 12 months of supply, after which any new suppliers will then revert to "existing member" status.

Lawrie & Symington sold 21 prime heifers in Lanark on Monday to a top of 263p per kg and an average of 228p (+13.4p on the week), while six prime, beef-bred bullocks peaked at 244p and levelled at 228.7p (+14p).

Seventeen prime, dairy-bred bullocks averaged at 177p (+6.5p).

In the rough ring, 41 beef cows averaged 149p and 22 dairy cows levelled at 123p. Ten OTM cattle averaged 158p.

There were also 2783 prime hoggs that sold to £95 per head and 223.6p per kg to average 174.2p (-1p).

The 1255 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £117.50 for Texels and £54.50 for Blackfaces to average £47.50 overall (-£1.50).

At the firm's fortnightly sale of dairy cattle, the top price of £1950 was bid twice, once for a Holstein cow and then for a Holstein heifer.

The overall average for 11 sold levelled at £1640 (-£60 on the previous sale).

Craig Wilson sold 1650 prime hoggs at Ayr on Monday to a top of £92 and 209.8p to average 167.5p (+4.3p).

There were also 559 cast sheep forward with ewes selling to £88 for Texels and £46 for Blackfaces.

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Agriculture

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