Review shows progress in achieving stability for LFA farmers

The review has identified positive progress in terms of securing the future of support
The review has identified positive progress in terms of securing the future of support

A review of Less Favoured Areas policy has shown significant progress made in delivering stability for farmers and crofters in Scotland's most remote areas.

Led by NFU Scotland, the review outlines achievements since the publication of its ‘Less Favoured Areas – Delivering for Scotland’, in October last year.

This document outlined policy proposals needed to ensure Scottish LFA farms and crofts continue to thrive and deliver for the rural economy.

The union made the case for 'continued and refined support' for active farming and crofting across the LFA.

Concerns were raised about the future of availability of funding, which is seen as vital in securing farmers and crofters' livelihoods.

Figures show that some 86 percent of the total agricultural land area in Scotland is designated as Less Favoured Area.

The new review has, however, identified positive progress in terms of securing the future of support available through the Less Favoured Areas Support scheme (LFASS), which provides income support to farmers in remote and constrained rural areas.

In particular, the effective reinstatement of LFASS 2020 support levels to 100 percent of funds available in 2018 and the guaranteed retention of LFASS from 2021 to 2024.

Progress has also been made in ensuring proportionality for penalties in relation to vital voluntary coupled schemes such as the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) and the Scottish Suckler Beef Calf Scheme (SSBSS).

These two schemes provide additional support, on top of the Basic Payment Scheme, to sheep producers who farm in Scotland's rough grazing areas.

NFU Scotland's LFA Committee Chairman, Robert Macdonald said that stability was vital to ensure that farmers and crofters in remote areas could plan and invest.

“This review of LFA policy has identified that significant progress has been made by NFU Scotland in delivering stability to LFA businesses in the coming years," he said.

“In last year’s policy document, the committee outlined the need to rebase LFASS if we are to target that precious support more effectively.

"We are also looking to have concerns around the ewe hogg scheme addressed and would welcome progress in these areas.

“The positive outcomes delivered through discussions with the Scottish government are welcome and we look to extend those to other policy priorities going forward."