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Calls for Payment Flexibility Under New CAP

With payments under Scotland’s Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) scheduled to start mid-March, slightly later than normal, NFU Scotland has repeated calls for payment flexibility to be built into new CAP schemes.

The LFASS payment run, which delivers more than £60 million of crucial support to livestock farmers in Scotland’s hills and uplands, is eagerly awaited given the pressures that the 2012 weather has placed on many farm business cash flows.   LFASS awards back up the main tranche of support delivered to Scottish farms through Single Farm Payments (SFP).  SFP delivery traditionally begins in early December and more than 99 percent of Scottish SFP funding for 2012 has already been paid.

Scottish farmers welcome prompt delivery of funds under current support schemes.  However, the complex nature of any new support system to emerge from current CAP Reform negotiations has the potential to delay payment runs in the future.

NFU Scotland continues to support the development of a system that would allow producers to receive an advance payment.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“For many Scottish farmers and crofters, lifeline LFASS support cannot come quickly enough as the 2012 weather has seen greater expenditure on feeding and bedding, poorer returns for lambs and seriously stretched cash flows.

“We recognise that Scottish Government has clear obligations to meet on completing inspection requirements before LFASS funds can be released and that it is open to EU audit on that process.  In addition, meeting payment deadlines requires an appropriate level of staff and resources that may not always be available to SGRPID.

“However, the opening weeks of the year have been relatively free of harsh winter weather and there should have been little to delay the necessary inspections from being completed. If anything, slippage in timing of the LFASS payment run to later in March simply underlines our view that we need new arrangements for payment schemes that allow, if necessary, advance payments to be made.

“There is considerable potential for any new direct support scheme arrangements emerging from the CAP Reform process to generate delays in payment timings because of their complexity.   An advance payment system for the new CAP that can ensure cash flow on to Scottish farms in December of each scheme year is hugely important.
 
“With the scope for significant change to direct support arrangements, the role of LFASS will also grow in importance, when it comes to anchoring vulnerable businesses and fragile areas across much of Scotland.

“The current LFASS has been a real success, providing a lifeline to many of our most vulnerable producers over a turbulent few years. As there will be a hiatus between Scotland’s existing rural development plan and the next, the current LFASS scheme must roll over in its current form until farms have adjusted to the new SFP system and the next SRDP is in place.

“In the long term, a future LFA or Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) support scheme must be the cornerstone of the next SRDP and must build on the principles of the existing LFASS.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 32/13


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