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Farmers may have escaped huge cuts to CAP

Scottish farmers appear to have escaped the massive cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget they were dreading following yesterday's deal at the EU budget summit.

However, the fine details of the CAP regulations have still to be worked out, as only headline figures have been agreed.

The budget for direct support payments, or Pillar 1 as it is known to farmers, appears to have been cut by 17% to 18%.

That funding pot is down from €337 billion (£285bn) for the period 2007 to 2013 to €278bn.

The budget for environmental payments and rural development, known as Pillar 11, appears to have been cut by between 6% and 7% to €85bn.

How those global figures will be distributed between member states has still to be negotiated, so it is too early to accurately predict the final implications for Scottish farmers.

However, SNP MEP Alyn Smith welcomed the deal and said: "On balance, I think we can live with this, not least because a lot of the convergence issues across and within member states have yet to be worked out.

"I've long said there is ample scope for the EU budget to work a bit harder, and it should not be immune from austerity at a time when all other budgets in council chambers and national parliaments the length of Europe are under pressure.

"The cuts, such as they are, are largely to the budgets that are essentially proposals, rather than existing budget lines."

He added: "Clearly, there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge on this yet."

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