SAVED: PAGE: ACTIVE AREA:

Union Welcomes Future Commitment to Less Favoured Areas but Calls for 2020 Rates to be Fixed

NFU Scotland has publicly welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent announcement that it will retain the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) from 2021 onwards as fantastic news for farmers and crofters working more challenging land in Scotland.

The Union has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing welcoming the legislation that will allow LFASS payments to be made in further scheme years from 2021 to 2024. The Scottish statutory instrument will also see the payment rates for each future scheme year fixed at the 2018 rate – thereby implying a return to the traditional budget of some £65 million per year.

The retention of the vital LFASS support has been the priority for the Union’s Less Favoured Areas Committee and a central plank of the Union’s 2020 policy documents ‘Stability – The Platform for Change’ (launched in March) and ‘Less Favoured Areas – Delivering for Scotland’ (launched in October).



However, in the letter, NFU Scotland also states that an area of outstanding concern remains 2020 LFASS scheme claims and the associated ‘shortfall’ in payments.  NFUS is demanding the full re-instatement of 2020 payments back to 2018 levels.  The Union has also redrawn its red line that any shortfall in the budget for this Pillar 2 scheme should not be made up by raiding hard won Pillar 1 convergence funding.

President Andrew McCornick said: “Both Scottish Government and NFU Scotland recognise the need for active farmers and crofters to be supported in tackling climate change and delivering for biodiversity, whilst producing high quality food and underpinning local economies and communities. The LFA Support Scheme is specifically intended to help achieve those ends.

“The LFASS claims made in 2019 were paid at 80 per cent of 2018 levels, as necessitated by the EU’s LFA ‘parachute’ regulations.  In lieu of the shortfall, farmers and crofters in receipt of LFASS then received further funds via the ‘upland support’ component from the first tranche of the convergence payments.

“As we know, EU requirements would see LFASS 2020 payments drop to 40 percent of their 2018 value.  If the Scottish Government’s intention is to pay 2020 claims at 40 percent of 2018 levels complemented by an increase in ‘upland support’ convergence payments, then this would entail a significant re-distribution of support as ‘upland support’ payments fail to reflect the costs of remoteness or the value of mixed livestock enterprises.

“Our LFA Committee has been crystal clear.  They want to see 2018 rates fully re-instated for 2020 claims to ensure this potentially damaging redistribution can be avoided. We believe that can be done by redefining the ‘upland support’ payment to include the LFASS fragility markers and cattle multipliers creating a like-for-like ‘LFASS’ payment.

“With the second tranche of convergence to come, worth some £70 million, NFU Scotland’s position remains solid. Convergence was won through Pillar 1 and should be delivered through Pillar 1. Convergence funding should not be used to resolve the LFASS shortfall.”

Notes to Editors

  • The Scottish Government intends to use the powers provided by the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Act 2020 to retain the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) from 2021 onwards. The draft Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) laid under the 2020 Act will see LFASS payments made in further scheme years from 2021 through to 2024.
  • The SSI also modifies the LFASS regulations with the effect that the payment rates for scheme years from 2021 onwards are the same as the payment rate for the LFASS 2018 payment – i.e. reverting back to 100 percent. 
  • NFU Scotland’s policy documents ‘Stability – The Platform for Change’ and ‘Less Favoured Areas – Delivering for Scotland’ are at: https://www.nfus.org.uk/userfiles/images/Policy/Stability.pdf and https://www.nfus.org.uk/policy/support-payments-and-grants/less-favoured-areas--delivering-for-scotland.aspx

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 151/20


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