Delivering Stability to Farming and Crofting in Scotland’s Less Favoured Areas – Robert Macdonald Guest Blog

Over the last five weeks NFU Scotland has highlighted the significant progress which has been achieved in delivering stability to farming and crofting in Scotland’s less favoured areas (LFA).

Just last year, there was real and urgent concern about the threat of payments through the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) dropping to 40 per cent of 2018 levels. The steadfast work of NFU Scotland’s LFA Committee has ensured that the significant contribution of LFA farming and crofting has been clearly recognised and acknowledged.

Last year, the LFA Committee published NFU Scotland’s proposals for mid-term stability in ‘Less Favoured Areas – Delivering for Scotland’ which you can read here: Less Favoured Areas – Delivering For Scotland v4 - low res.pdf. In this document, NFU Scotland outlines the clear need for LFASS to continue until a new model of agricultural support can be implemented – a model which properly enables active LFA businesses to create jobs and opportunities in remote communities.

Many of the threads identified in NFU Scotland’s approach have since been picked up by the farmer-led Hill, Upland and Crofting Group (HUCG) set up by the Scottish Government. The HUCG recommendations, published last month, chime almost perfectly with the Union’s well documented approach to securing the multiple benefits from more extensive livestock production across Scotland’s more challenging agricultural landscapes.

Importantly, the HUCG has backed the Union’s LFA Committee on the need for greater targeting of support, by calling for a rebasing LFASS as well as restricting eligible ewe hoggs under the SUSS scheme to a proportion of the breeding flock.

In particular, we have already seen significant progress in securing stability, with LFASS now likely to continue to 2023, and the equivalent of 100 per cent of support delivered against 2020 claims. We have also welcomed progress in relation to proportionate penalties for the ewe hogg scheme, which is an important aspect of LFA support. This progress was identified in the NFU Scotland LFA Policy Review published last month: 0321 LFA Policy Review.pdf.

The LFA committee will review the output of HUCG and ensure to forge a sustainable and stable future for LFA farming and crofting.

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