Cash support for struggling farmers

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NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement today (Wednesday) that lifeline support for those farming in Scotland’s Less Favoured Areas (LFAs) will begin to arrive in bank accounts from tomorrow.

LFA payments give critical financial support to hill and upland livestock farmers and crofters, allowing them to manage effectively active grazing with cattle and sheep on areas that have varying degrees of natural constraint.

The news that payment has now been authorised to approximately 85 per cent of those claiming under the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) is a welcome boost not only for those farmers and crofters receiving the payments, but also for Scotland’s rural economy as a whole.

NFU Scotland’s new LFA committee chairman Lachlan Maclean said: “The timely delivery of this support is always a relief for farmers and crofters, and the announcement of a payment run that takes in the vast majority of claimants is certainly good news.

“LFASS has proved its worth as an effective method of supporting active grazing management in hill and upland areas. While we are confident the current scheme will continue to play a vital role over the next two years, we must look forward to how a new scheme will operate from 2014, and what the likely impacts will be for us as farmers and crofters.

“If the next Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) were to be delayed, we need to avoid any hiatus in the delivery of all Pillar 2 payments, but most critically LFA support. That would mean putting bridging arrangements in place for key schemes, such as LFASS, until a new SRDP is in place.

“It is also vital that LFA support entirely complements direct area-based support under a reformed Pillar 1 of the CAP. Scotland’s extensive livestock areas need a sensible CAP package with LFA support and Pillar 1 payments working in harmony.

“As the CAP reform debate rolls on, ensuring that a workable LFASS remains in place for farmers and crofters across Scotland’s hills and uplands will be the priority for the NFUS LFA committee.”