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Eligible Land

NFU Scotland is urging its members to avoid falling foul of the rules governing what land can be used to claim Single Farm Payment (SFP) support when completing their Integrated Administration and Control (IACS) paperwork and Single Application Form (SAF) in the coming weeks.

Any successful claimant requires a hectare of eligible land to activate a unit of SFP entitlement. However, areas of gorse, scree, rock, water and bracken can be deemed ineligible. Under inspection last year, several farmers in Scotland were caught out by a more rigorous interpretation of eligible and ineligible land for SFP purpose resulting in hefty penalties being imposed on their SFP. That new interpretation was brought about as a result of an EU audit of UK inspection processes.

NFUS is already assisting a number of members with appeals related to ineligible land. The Union also understands that fresh guidance is to be sent by the Scottish Government to all SFP claimants ahead of the IACS deadline of Monday, May 17, that will better clarify what land is deemed eligible and what is regarded as ineligible.

NFU Scotland’s President Jim McLaren said:

"The Single Farm Payment is such an important part of the cash flow on most Scottish farm businesses that confusion and uncertainty over what ground is deemed eligible and ineligible is in no one’s interest.

"We can appreciate that under pressure from European auditors, the Scottish Government is taking a stricter line on what ground is eligible or ineligible for payment. This issue has been tackled in the recent round of farmer meetings held by the Scottish Government around the country.

"However, those meetings will only have reached a fraction of those likely to complete their forms in the coming weeks. We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to send out additional guidance on SFP to all claimants in the coming weeks, with important points on eligible and ineligible land to be included in that document. It is vital that producers have this guidance in their hands as soon as possible.

"In the spirit of John Kinnaird’s review of the appeals procedure, carried out last year, the Scottish Government has also confirmed that staff are available in area offices to answer any queries applicants may have on land eligibility. It is in everyone’s interests that producers complete their SAF and IACS forms as accurately as possible and support on this matter from SGRPID is appreciated.

"We are also working in Brussels and looking at other member states to ensure that Scottish farmers are being fairly treated when eligibility of land is being considered compared to producers elsewhere in Europe."

Notes to editors

According to the guidance issued by the Scottish Government with the 2009 IACS forms, SFPS eligible land is arable land and temporary or permanent pasture on which the production, rearing or growing of agricultural products is undertaken or maintaining the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC). Land used for short rotation coppice can also be used to activate your standard entitlements for payment. Land that consists of areas of rocks, scree, roads, buildings, yards and hard standings, water, trees, dense vegetative cover (gorse, scrub and monoculture stands of bracken) are ineligible.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 62/10


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