The NFU has welcomed the announcement from Scottish Government that lifeline support for those farming in Scotland’s Less Favoured Areas (LFAs) will begin to arrive in bank accounts.
LFA payments give critical financial support to hill and upland livestock farmers and crofters, allowing them to continue grazing cattle and sheep in areas of Scotland that are naturally challenging.
The news that payment has now been authorised to approximately 92 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. That will see £58 million from a total scheme pot of £65.5 million delivered to hill farmers in the next few days with a commitment from Scottish Government to ensure outstanding payments are delivered as soon as possible.
NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said: “The delivery of this support is a welcome boost to cash flows for farmers and crofters, as we emerge from winter.
"This year’s payment run will see a larger number of LFASS claimants receive their funds in the first week compared to this time last year. And we look to Scottish Government to deliver on its promise to complete the remaining payments as soon as possible.
“LFASS is a hugely important source of funding for those farmers who are at the heart Scotland’s crucial livestock sector.
"With CAP Reform discussions working towards a conclusion and a new Rural Development Plan for Scotland in the throes of being created, we need to ensure that the many benefits that LFASS delivers in terms of activity, livestock production and the environment are at the core of any new scheme.
“Year in, year out LFASS has proved its worth and we welcome the clear commitment that the current scheme will continue to roll over until such times as the terms of a new Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) are agreed. That commitment provides an anchor of support to the majority of Scottish farm businesses at a time when the delivery of direct support through Pillar One of the CAP has yet to be decided. The shift to an area-based Single Farm Payment in the future will bring a period of flux and transition during which time a stable LFASS will be hugely welcome.”