Importance of Less Favoured Areas Reinforced in Latest NFU Scotland Publication

Support to LFA must be fully reinstated to £65 million from 2021

In its latest policy document, NFU Scotland is calling on Scottish Government to recognise the value of active farming and crofting across Scotland’s vast and varied Less Favoured Area (LFA).

Accounting for 86 percent of Scotland’s agricultural land, 90 percent of its sheep and 83 percent of its beef herd; LFA agriculture is the backbone of Scotland’s sustainable red meat industry.  In addition, it is critical in the delivery of the rural economy, local jobs, world-famous landscapes and biodiversity, carbon sequestration and storage, thriving communities and cultural heritage.  

Agricultural activity in Scotland’s LFA during Covid-19 has underlined the resilience of remoter communities as well as contributing to Scotland’s overall food security and a pathway to recovery.

Yet huge question marks remain over future funding levels for farmers and crofters in the LFA.  The Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS), the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS) and the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) all provide vital funding to LFA farmers and crofters, in addition to the mainstay of support via the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening.

To safeguard and enhance the significant contribution of active farming and crofting in the LFA the Scottish Government must act with urgency to:
-    Retain LFASS from 2021 with a £65 million budget and rebased to better reflect current activity
-    Reinstate LFASS 2020 payments made in Spring 2021 to 100 per cent of 2018 payments
-    Retain SUSSS with the added safeguard on the number of ewe hoggs claimed limited to 20 per cent of the ewe flock to ensure better targeting to those most reliant on Region 3 land.

The Union believes that only by securing and targeting vital support in the short to medium term will active farming and crofting be properly underpinned to enable the continued delivery of the many valued outcomes it provides.  The Union has written to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing outlining its priorities and provided him with an advance copy of the document ‘Less Favoured Areas – Delivering for Scotland’ launched today.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said “Earlier this year we outlined our proposals for all Scottish agricultural support until the transition to a new delivery model in 2024.  This document, driven by our LFA Committee, drills down into the detail on what is required from Scottish Government if we are to continue to secure the huge number of benefits derived from LFA farming and crofting.

“It must act with urgency and use its new powers in the new Scottish Agriculture Bill to unpick the continuation of EU regulations that would see the demise of LFASS. The importance of LFASS payments through what will be a turbulent period for LFA farmers and crofters cannot be overstated.

“The key ask for these businesses is the full reinstatement of LFASS support until at least 2024, moving away from the disruption and uncertainty we have seen around LFA support in recent times.  Next year (2021) presents a clear opportunity for Scottish Government to fully deliver on its commitment to LFA over the next few years.

“To ensure precious funds are targeted at active businesses delivering for Scotland’s rural and remote areas, we have also outlined necessary changes to the beef calf scheme (SSBSS) and the ewe hogg scheme (SUSSS).  Together with LFASS, these will ensure farming and crofting remain the economic catalyst behind many of Scotland’s remote and island communities and will continue to generate a vast array of non-market benefits that are clearly in the public interest.”  Ends

Notes to Editor

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 131/20

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Ian K Sands

302 days 1 min ago

Why are NFUS singling one sector out for support the union is meant to represent all of Scottish farmers from all types of farms taking this stance at a time when it knows that monies for support are more than likely going to be hard won is like saying that this sector should be supported at any cost probably to the detriment of other sectors surly policy should be to look to the future of Scottish agriculture for the whole of Scotland and not just one specific sector other wise what is the point in calling it a union.
Bob Carruth 302 days ago
Thank you for your comment Ian. The document launched today sets out the case for securing the money that is already spent on LFASS. This is not about taking money from other sectors. The Union fights for the priorities of all farming sectors in Scotland.
Bob Carruth 301 days ago
In addition, it is worth pointing out that the document sets out the case for securing the funding that is already delivered through LFASS in Pillar 2.
Ian K Sands

302 days 1 min ago

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