The Scottish Government is planning to crack down on so-called 'sofa' or 'slipper' farmers who use barren hillsides to claim Single Farm Payments. This proposal follows the short-term recommendations of the Pack Inquiry into Future Support for Agriculture in Scotland.
The proposals do not require EU approval and could be put in place by January. Minimum stocking rates would be established and farms that fell below them would find an inspector calling. They would then have 60 days to put things right. The Scottish NFU endorsed the plan as the best way forward.
It is also hoped that Scotland will secure a devolved animal health budget by next April which should help a number of innovations in policy that the Scottish Government has been pursuing in this area. Their policy experiments could provide lessons for the rest of the UK, although the fact that the UK is a single epidemiological unit poses some challenges.