Under proposals to simplify CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), the Scottish Government is to remove the requirement of the negative list, an element of the active farmer requirement.

EU regulations currently prevent member states from automatically making direct payments over €5,000 to specific businesses - known as the negative list. This includes claimants who operate permanent sporting and recreational grounds and other services such as railways or airports. Safeguards continue to be in place to ensure funds go to active farmers.

Announcing the change, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "I have made no secret of my belief that current CAP rules are too prescriptive, often place excessive administrative burdens on our farmers, and do not allow enough flexibility at a local level.

"That is why I have taken the opportunity to allow for the removal of the negative list, which will reduce the administrative burden on our farmers and crofters. Although the question will continue to feature on the 2018 Single Application Form, I want to be clear that we will not be assessing that element."

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick sounded a note of caution and said: "The removal of the CAP Negative List by the Scottish Government will be complicated as the system has been highly effective for a long time now in ensuring non-agricultural businesses are not eligible for direct support.

"With the removal of the Negative List it is the hope of the Union that this is the first step towards more effective measures of "agricultural activity" and a switch from the area-based CAP payments to a new activity-based approach."

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold 6 prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 230p per kg and an average of 215.8p.

In the rough ring 32 beef cows sold to 172p and averaged 138p, while 56 dairy cows peaked at 132p and levelled at 109p.

The firm also sold 779 prime hoggs to a top of £105.50 per head and 223p per kg to average 203.6p (-5.1p on the week).

A good show of 754 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £127.50 for Texels and average £70, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £70.50 for Cheviots and levelled at £38.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 1433 prime hoggs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £110 and 239.2p to average 201p (+4.9p). Included in that overall average were 421 Blackfaces that peaked at £95 and 210.5p to level at 197p.

There were also 177 heavy cast ewes forward that sold to £128 for Texel crosses and averaged £82.09, while 242 light ewes peaked at £69 for Blackfaces and levelled at £41.60.