Support to LFA must be fully reinstated to £65 million from 2021 – NFUS

In its latest policy document, NFU Scotland (NFUS) is calling on the Scottish government to recognise the value of active farming and crofting across Scotland’s vast and varied Less Favoured Area (LFA).

Accounting for 86% of Scotland’s agricultural land, 90% of its sheep and 83% of its beef herd; LFA agriculture is the backbone of Scotland’s sustainable red meat industry.

In addition, it is critical in the delivery of the rural economy, local jobs, world-famous landscapes and biodiversity, carbon sequestration and storage, thriving communities and cultural heritage.

Agricultural activity in Scotland’s LFA during Covid-19 has underlined the resilience of remoter communities as well as contributing to Scotland’s overall food security and a pathway to recovery.

The Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS), the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS) and the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) all provide vital funding to LFA farmers and crofters, in addition to the mainstay of support via the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening.

To safeguard and enhance the significant contribution of active farming and crofting in the LFA, NFUS is calling on the Scottish government to:
  • Retain LFASS from 2021 with a £65 million budget and rebased to better reflect current activity;
  • Reinstate LFASS 2020 payments made in spring 2021 to 100% of 2018 payments;
  • Retain SUSSS with the added safeguard on the number of ewe hoggs claimed limited to 20% of the ewe flock to ensure better targeting to those most reliant on Region 3 land.

NFUS believes that only by securing and targeting vital support in the short to medium term will active farming and crofting be properly underpinned to enable the continued delivery of the many valued outcomes it provides.

Written Proposals

NFUS has written to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing outlining its priorities and provided him with an advance copy of the document ‘Less Favoured Areas – Delivering for Scotland’ launched today.

NFUS president Andrew McCornick said:

“Earlier this year we outlined our proposals for all Scottish agricultural support until the transition to a new delivery model in 2024.

This document, driven by our LFA committee, drills down into the detail on what is required from the Scottish government if we are to continue to secure the huge number of benefits derived from LFA farming and crofting.

“It must act with urgency and use its new powers in the new Scottish Agriculture Bill to unpick the continuation of EU regulations that would see the demise of LFASS.

“The importance of LFASS payments through what will be a turbulent period for LFA farmers and crofters cannot be overstated.

The key ask for these businesses is the full reinstatement of LFASS support until at least 2024, moving away from the disruption and uncertainty we have seen around LFA support in recent times.

“Next year [2021] presents a clear opportunity for the Scottish government to fully deliver on its commitment to LFA over the next few years,” he concluded.