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Union Calls for Prompt LFA Payments in Face of Ingoing Weather Turmoil

With many parts of Scotland still being battered by severe winter weather, NFU Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to make lifeline Less Favoured Area Support Payments (LFASS) at the earliest opportunity.

The Union hopes that the excellent progress made by Scottish Government in delivering Single Farm Payments to Scottish farm businesses since the beginning of December will open the way to LFASS payments starting.

The majority of Scotland’s hill and uplands farmers are already eating into their cash flow to buy emergency supplies of feed and fuel with several also having to find shelter for stock.  The knowledge that LFASS payments are on their way would provide some comfort in the current harsh winter.

Although most farms are focussed on keeping their businesses going at the moment, the Union is also concerned about the prospect of ongoing investment in all farm businesses next year when rural development funding via the Rural Priorities scheme takes a severe hit.

NFU Scotland’s President Jim McLaren said:

“The weather continues to wreak havoc on Scotland’s farms with many of our members struggling to secure deliveries of fuel and feed while at the same time attempting to keep shelves stocked by getting their produce out the farm road and into the food chain.

“The ongoing cost of a winter that has already lasted weeks was softened by the Scottish Government keeping up its excellent record in getting Single Farm Payments into the majority of bank accounts in December.  With no let up in the weather, we are calling on Scottish Government to do a similar job when it comes to making LFASS payments in early 2011.

“For many vulnerable hill and upland farms in Scotland, the knowledge that LFASS payments are coming will provide a vital cushion when faced with hefty bills for fuel and feed for the early part of this winter.

“While such payments are essential in keeping farm businesses going, the ability of Scottish farmers to secure funding to help them invest and develop their businesses next year will be even more difficult than in the past.  The Rural Priorities scheme has undoubtedly been successful in allocating funds.  However, last year’s scheme left a lot of applicants extremely unhappy and our expectation is that this situation will only worsen during 2011.

“A number of changes have been made already to the 2011 scheme in order to ration the money, most notably a cap on payments.

“To avoid applicants going to the hassle of applying for limited funds, only to face disappointment and rejection, we are calling on Scottish Government to give farmers a better indication of their chances of having a successful application and what are the true priorities for the scheme ahead?

“It is simply wrong that a farmer has to pay on average £2000 to put together an application with no knowledge and only a glimmer of hope as to whether he’ll be successful.   Clearer guidance and clarity will be helpful to all; not just farmers but also the Scottish Government in terms of managing expectations ahead.”  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 170/10


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