SAVED: PAGE: ACTIVE AREA:

Union Hits Back at Proposed Payment Allocation

Today (Thursday 31 October), the Scottish Government announced its proposal to divide the £160 million award from UK Government into two instalments and use the pot to fill funding gaps in the Less Favoured Areas.

While the Scottish Government’s approach has much in common with the proposal put forward by NFU Scotland’s Board of Directors, there are marked and concerning differences that the Union must take issue with.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “We understand that pot will now arrive in two £80 million tranches - the first in March 2020 and second in March 2021. Detail on how the money will be distributed in year one is now emerging.

“NFU Scotland has made recommendations to Scottish Government on how we believe these hard-won funds can be used to the benefit of all Scottish farmers and crofters and it appears that some of our recommendations have been adopted and it is clear that others have not.

“We cannot agree with Scottish Government’s proposition to use any of the £160 million to address the budget shortfall that exists in the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme for 2019 and 2020 scheme years.  In year one, it appears Scottish Government intends to strip £13 million from the pot to fund an LFASS-type grazing scheme to cover the LFASS shortfall.  It is likely that a further £39 million from year two’s £80 million could well be used to fill the holes in the 2020 LFASS budget.

“Using this money, rather than finding that LFASS funding shortfall from usual budgetary sources, dilutes what this funding could have achieved. This funding was derived through pillar 1 direct support and should be spent through pillar 1 direct support means.

“We do support using the funds to increase the basic payment scheme rates in Regions 1, 2 and 3 with extra weighted support to the Region 2 and Region 3 budgets for more marginal land. We also support top ups to the coupled beef and sheep schemes.

“However, the weightings to the regional rate top ups by Scottish Government justifiably support the hills and uplands but do not accurately reflect the hugely valuable contribution of all land in Region 1.  As well as highly productive arable land, most of the Region 1 land is grassland and more support here would, in turn, have better supported all our vulnerable livestock sectors.

“Unfortunately, the approach Scottish Government intends to take will immediately lower what all three regional payments could have been and that will have a significant impact on all sectors, especially those underpinned by Region 1 permanent pastures and grassland.”  

Ends

Contact Douglas Ross on 0131 472 4059

Author: Douglas Ross

Date Published:

News Article No.: 155/19


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