NFU urges care in listing land for farm payments

TWO major pieces of form filling in the farmer's year take place in the coming weeks with the Integrated Administration and Control paperwork and the ironically named Single Application Form.

With much heftier penalties now being imposed for errors in this form filling, NFU Scotland yesterday urged farmers to check with local Scottish Government offices if there was any uncertainty over the area of land they would be claiming for their Single Farm Payment.

Union president Jim McLaren said it was in everyone's interest that the forms were filled in accurately as possible.

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"The Single Farm Payment is such an important part of the cash flow on most Scottish farm businesses that confusion and uncertainty over what ground is deemed eligible and ineligible is in no-one's interest.

"We welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to send out additional guidance on SFP to all claimants in the coming weeks, with important points on eligible and ineligible land to be included in that document. It is vital that producers have this guidance in their hands as soon as possible."

Any successful claimant requires a hectare of eligible land to activate a unit of SFP entitlement. However, areas of gorse, scree, rock, water and bracken can be deemed ineligible.

Under inspection last year, several farmers in Scotland were caught out by a more rigorous interpretation of eligible and ineligible land for SFP purpose resulting in hefty penalties being imposed on their SFP.

That new interpretation was brought about as a result of an EU audit of UK inspection processes.