Union Discusses LFA Proposals with Officials

UK - National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland’s proposals for Scotland’s Less Favoured Areas (LFA) Support Scheme, seeking a more equitable deal for all Scotland’s LFA livestock farmers, has been run past both Scottish Government and EU Commission officials in recent days.
calendar icon 21 January 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Recent bad weather across Scotland has highlighted how vulnerable all hill units are in Scotland, regardless of their location. The Union’s proposals seek to ensure that LFASS support, worth around £65 million this year, rising to £71 million next year, is targeted at active units in general and the most vulnerable hill units in particular, regardless of whereabouts in Scotland those farms are located.

The Scottish Government is committed to increase the payment rates in the Fragile and Very Fragile areas by 19 per cent for this year and a further 19 per cent for the 2010 scheme compared with LFASS in 2008. The Union proposal would not impact on that existing commitment. Instead, the Union is working to ensure that the LFASS scheme for 2011 clearly reflects activity on all LFA hill farms, including those in the Standard area, and rewards those who are delivering the benefits derived from keeping cattle and sheep in these disadvantaged areas.

As NFU Scotland LFA Committee chairman Sandy Tulloch explained: “With the support of the Scottish Government, we intend to model our proposals to see if our intention of better targeted LFASS payments can be achieved. Scottish Government officials will also attend our LFA Committee meeting in early February and together, I’m sure, we can reshape the scheme to ensure that LFASS delivers for all hill producers.

"Achieving a successful outcome also involves us engaging the EU Commission at an early stage, to ensure the required revisions gain approval this year. So we've been in Brussels this week to set out our proposals against the demands of the EU regulations.

“The recent bad weather has focussed attention on how vulnerable all active hill farms are in Scotland. Regardless of where those farms are, LFASS is a crucial scheme in terms of delivering support to those keeping livestock on some of our most disadvantaged land.

“For those in the Fragile and Very Fragile LFA areas, the significant increase in the payment rates for 2009 and 2010 are a welcome and much needed boost. However, we want to see all active hill farms appropriately supported – regardless of location. Under our proposal, LFASS payments from 2011 would increase for those actively farming more disadvantaged land in the Standard area, as well as retaining the uplifts for the Fragile and Very Fragile areas.

“We are convinced that modification of the existing LFASS can recycle funds from those who have significantly reduced or stopped keeping livestock in order to raise the payment rate in the Standard area for those on the poorest land. Those hill units have so far missed out on any additional assistance.

“In addition, the recent re-basing exercise carried out by the Scottish Government has also resulted in the omission of ewe hogg replacements from stock numbers. As a result, many hill units across Scotland may struggle even more to meet existing minimum stocking requirements in this year's LFASS. This has to be addressed to prevent a perverse situation that could penalise those with the most limited farming options. It is those kinds of units that LFASS is intended to support."

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