Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) has welcomed planned changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Less Favoured Area Support (Scotland) (LFASS) intimated yesterday (Thursday, November 5).

The amendments, announced by the Scottish government, are due to come into effect on January 1, 2021.

Eleanor Kay, policy adviser (Agriculture) at SLE, said:

"We still need to examine the detail of regulations laid before parliament but at first glance, we are broadly supportive of the measures outlined by the government.

The introduction of the Basic Pyment Scheme [BPS] continuity regulation was expected and the changes to the greening scheme will be pleasing to most within the sector.

"In the near future, however, we would like to see the government look at the gap left by pausing the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme – a missing piece of the jigsaw which is limiting our ability to deliver for the environment."

'Amendments are correct in the short-term'

Kay continued:

"The amendments to LFASS are correct in the short-term, reversing the changes that were forced upon the sector as a result of not moving to the EU Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) system.

However, we must quickly use the opportunity this 'fixing' of LFASS delivers to reassess what it is we want funding in our uplands to deliver for the farmers, society and the environment.

"We must ensure that a suitable replacement policy is implemented which takes account of the unique situation of our uplands which have an important role in delivering multiple benefits.

"During the Simplicity and Stability consultation – and in our own #Route2050 paper –  SLE has argued for changes to be made to the inspection and penalty regime, especially in light of the mental health burden of excessive bureaucracy.

"We look forward to seeing how these changes will allow for a greater understanding of honest human error and a constructive approach to fix on-farm processes which may have caused an error," she concluded.