Future of Scotland's LFA

SCOTLAND, UK - The National Beef Association (NBA) is to challenge moves to redesign the Scottish Less Favoured Areas (LFA) and reduce Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) payments on farms that have modified stock numbers since headage payments were removed in 2005.
calendar icon 13 November 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The NBA are also urging LFA farmers who have still to fill in the Scottish Government’s LFASS stocking form, which should have been returned on 2 October, to do so quickly because they risk difficulties with future LFASS claims if they do not.

“Farming within the LFA is so important to Scotland that every effort must be made to retain its structure. One of the biggest threats is the re-designation of areas, a brainchild of the European Commission, which could result in large beef areas on Speyside, and also in the South-West, being pushed outside a revised LFA parish boundary,” explained NBA Scotland Council member, Neil McCorkingdale.

“Any move that threatens these important beef cattle regions will be strenuously resisted by the NBA. It is thought that if 66 per cent of the land within a parish boundary meets the Commission’s new LFA criteria then all the land in the parish will be given LFA status,” said Mr McCorkingdale.

“This may be sufficient to protect some farms in some cases, but if it is not the Association will continue to work with the Scottish Government, which is also fearful of vital support being lost in these specialist beef producing areas, to make sure the damage is minimal if it is impossible to avoid there being no damage at all,” he continued.

And the NBA is also to resist simultaneous efforts to give less LFASS support to farms which could fall down the grazing category payment ladder because they have reduced stock numbers.

“This short sighted attempt to curb payments will be resisted, said Mr. McCorkingdale. “The advocates claim these farms are no longer as active as they should be. However this ignores the fact many of these holdings were overstocked when headage payments were the dominant management influence - and have since relieved stocking pressure so they can meet the good environmental and agricultural practice requirements that are being demanded of them instead.”

“These farms are, despite reducing stock to optimum management levels, core producers of animals that are valuable to the Scottish economy and the continued good management of the LFA too.

“But if they are hit with a big income drop because their LFASS cheque is dramatically reduced some could drop out of mainline production, at a time when Scottish processors are clamouring for every beef animal they can get, which would be disastrous.”

The Association is also worried that many LFA farmers have unwittingly jeopardised future LFASS payments by not returning the Scottish Government’s stocking questionnaire, which was due last month.

“If they can get this information into Edinburgh, even if it is late, they will safeguard their future payments. If they cannot find the form at home they should collect one from their Area Office and fill it in immediately,” Mr McCorkingdale urged.

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