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LFA Support More Vital Than Ever

NFU Scotland has reiterated its call to the Scottish Government and EU decision-makers to prioritise Less Favoured Area (LFA) support and map out its development over the next few years.  

With the potential for great upheaval under the CAP’s Pillar 1, which will provide direct payments via a new area-based formula, the role of LFASS will grow in importance, anchoring vulnerable businesses and fragile areas across much of Scotland.

The traditional and vital farming systems in Scotland’s LFA face ever-increasing input costs, compliance requirements and volatile output prices. The evidence is clear that in rapidly changing and uncertain times a package of co-ordinated policy measures to secure the longer term viability of hill farm and upland farming businesses is required as a matter of urgency.    

NFUS President, Nigel Miller said:

“Hill farming and crofting in Scotland make a significant contribution to the maintenance of our upland environment and its iconic wildlife and landscapes; farmers in these areas maintain the social fabric in remoter rural areas and contribute to local and national economies both directly through livestock production and indirectly by underpinning activities such as tourism.

“The current LFASS has been a real success, providing a lifeline to many of our most vulnerable producers over a turbulent few years. However, the pattern of stormy markets, high input costs and, unfortunately, unpredictable weather, means that we must prioritise LFASS in the next SRDP. Additionally, despite LFASS’ success, we cannot hide from the fact that many farms in the LFA have disappeared in the past decade and that it is more important than ever to look after these producers whose economic, social and environmental contribution is manifold, and maintain these areas’ critical mass of farming activity.

“As it looks increasingly likely that there will be a hiatus between the existing SRDP and the next, the current LFASS scheme must roll over in its current form until farms have adjusted to the area-payment system and the next SRDP is in place.

“In the medium term, fully funded in its current form, LFASS must continue to provide vital support for the vast majority of livestock-based farms and crofts across Scotland’s more disadvantaged areas. However, it should also be re-based to sweep up existing anomaly cases and new entrants that are currently frozen out of the scheme.

“In the long term, a future LFA or Areas of Natural Constraint support scheme must retain primacy over the life of the next SRDP and must build on the principles of the existing LFASS to allocate payments to land of varying disadvantage and farming options, subject to appropriate stocking requirements to ensure continued agricultural activity. This must also include targeted payments for grazing animals, recognising the vulnerability of hefted ewes and suckler cows.

“Any new scheme under Pillar 2 to maintain active farming across our more disadvantaged areas must be coherent and consistent with the implementation of direct support from Pillar 1 following CAP reform.  We must make sure that the two most important strands of support to Scottish agriculture work seamlessly together.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth/Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4006/4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 154/12


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