SAVED: PAGE: ACTIVE AREA:

Farmers Support Revamp For Less Favoured Areas

Union committee meets on Mull to debate LFASS re-basing

NFU Scotland's Less Favoured Areas Committee believes the Scottish Government must act with urgency in introducing a revamped Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) to run between now and 2016.

Meeting on Mull yesterday (Thursday, 7 June), top of the committee agenda was the notion of re-basing the current LFASS.

That would see the calculations on which payments are currently made take into account any eligible farm’s stocking levels in 2012.  It would free up funds from those that are less active than in 2009 and allow those funds to be redirected to those still rearing cattle and sheep in disadvantaged areas.  It would also allow those currently excluded from the scheme but farming within the LFA areas to be supported.

Speaking from Mull, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy and Regions Jonnie Hall said:

“Updating the livestock figures that make up LFASS calculations and basing them on 2012 returns would free up funds from those who are now less active or inactive.  That could allow for increased payments to those continuing to run their suckler herds and hill flocks in disadvantaged areas without impacting on the £65 million budget that the Scottish Government has pledged to retain.

“Vitally, such a move would also sweep up a host of so-called LFASS anomaly cases – people that have been frozen out of the scheme following the last re-basing on 2009 livestock figures. This would resolve an injustice for some genuinely active producers caught by the historic aspect of the LFASS.

“While Scotland will almost certainly have to introduce a new Areas of Natural Constraint scheme to replace LFASS in 2016, the Committee was clear that the Scottish Government could and should act with urgency to address current issues through a re-vamped scheme for 2013, 2014 and 2015.   We must ensure this life-line support continues to underpin fully active farmers and crofters across Scotland.”

By touring LFA Committee Chairman Lachlan Maclean's Knock Farm on Mull, the Committee also looked in depth at a host of other current policy dilemmas in the CAP Reform process.

Mr Hall said:

“The CAP Reform debate is gathering momentum and, with 80 percent of Scotland designated Less Favoured Areas, hill farmers are fully aware of what the deal may mean for them.

“Their concerns were typified by issues of appropriate payment rates for land of variable quality at farm level, possible stocking requirements attached to receiving direct support, options for new mapping rules to separate ineligible land with more confidence, and the value of future coupled support for livestock enterprises.

“The Committee also considered the Scottish Government's current consultation on future rural development funding in some depth - agreeing that easier access to lower levels of investment to improve the viability of a greater number of hill and upland units would be critical.”  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 80/13


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