Less Favoured Areas get even less

Support to farmers in some of the country’s most marginal farmlands began to be paid out earlier this week, but those working in the Less Favoured Areas might have noticed a considerable reduction in the funds available through the scheme.

With the budget in recent years standing at £60 million, that has been reduced this year to closer to £23 million - and the Less Favoured Areas Supports Scheme (LFASS) for the 2020 claim year has been limited to 40% of the 2018 levels.

Welcoming the timely payment, NFU Scotland policy manager John Armour said that

This year’s payment had been constrained under retained EU rules. But he welcomed reassurances given earlier in the year by the Scottish Government that they were committed to ensuring that there would be no overall reduction in the total funding available for these areas this year:

“We await clarity on how this ‘upland support’ element will be delivered to make up the 60 percent shortfall,” said Armour.

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“It is critical that the Scottish Government takes steps to ensure that individual businesses are no longer disadvantaged by EU rules on LFA.”

However the union is believed to be sticking to its guns over their belief that additional funding which came from the UK Government as compensation for the failure to pass on earlier EU convergence funding should not be used to plug the gap.

Although a Scottish Government spokesperson said that no decision had yet been taken, the first half of the convergence funding was used to this end last year – and industry sources expect a similar approach to be taken this year.