The Scottish government strategy for rural payments for 2020-21 will be broadly welcomed by farmers and land managers, according to Scottish Land and Estates (SLE).

The rural business organisation made the comments following a parliamentary statement by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing this afternoon.

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

Rural payments will be made to businesses one or two months earlier than they were delivered this year, news which will be welcome to farmers and land managers as they look at cash-flow projections ahead of our imminent EU departure.

“These are vital support funds and it is important that we see all claimants have their payments expedited at a time of considerable uncertainty.”

LFASS Payments

Kay continued:

“Less Favoured Area Support Scheme [LFASS] payments will be topped up by the convergence funding allocations, once again highlighting the importance of supporting farming and land management in the uplands.

Moving forward, we need to soon consider how we continue to reward upland farmers for all the environmental and societal benefits they deliver once LFASS is replaced.

SLE also said the creation of a board to oversee recommendations from expert industry reports would benefit from diverse input.

“Scottish agriculture and land management is familiar with an extensive range of expert reports and research being published each year but it is true that recommendations are often forgotten about or the pace of change is too slow.

A new board to oversee the outcome of these reports can add value but we need to see a diverse group of rural voices being included on that board.

“This will go some way to ensuring that all of Scotland’s land managers are included in creating the new plans for rural policy,” she concluded.