Less Favoured Areas scheme
Changes to support for farmers.
Hill farmers and crofters in Scotland’s most remote areas will continue to receive assistance under the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) into 2020.
Following compulsory changes to regulations governing LFASS made by the European Commission, LFASS support will be retained at 80% in 2019 and 40% in 2020 – the only part of the UK to continue such a payment.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“LFASS is crucial for our hill farmers and crofters operating in some of our most remote and marginalised areas. That is why I am pleased to confirm they will continue to receive payments at 80% and 40% into 2020.
“I fully accept that this is not ideal, but under changes to EU regulations there is no option but to revise payment rates down. Importantly, we are clear this change will not impact on those who receive the minimum payment of £385, which is not being reduced.
“Our hill farmers and crofters continue to face significant challenges from both adverse weather and Brexit uncertainties and we are already seeing reduced livestock numbers and land abandonment.
“Therefore, I will continue to strongly push for further revisions and have submitted proposed amendments to give more flexibility in setting the rates for 2020 – a move I fully expect the UK Government to support.”
For 2020 the EU regulations currently require a further reduction to 20%, which Scottish Government has consistently said is unacceptable. The European Commission recently announced a proposed change to regulation which could see that payment rise to 40% of current rates. Mr Ewing discussed the possibility of any further flexibilities in the proposed regulation when he met Commissioner Phil Hogan when he was in Brussels in December.
Work is underway to identify and develop further options to bridge the gap in 2020, should our proposed amendment not be accepted by the European Commission.