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NFUS Welcome Government's Vision for Livestock

by 5m Editor
11 June 2009, at 9:01am

SCOTLAND, UK - NFU Scotland has warmly welcomed the Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland's livestock farmers as outlined by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, when addressing the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.

This major policy statement saw the Cabinet Secretary confirm the following:

  • No further use of Article 68, meaning no top-slicing of all Single Farm Payments (SFP)
  • A 19 percent increase in 2009 LFASS payments for fragile and very fragile areas and further increases from 2010, with details to be discussed with industry. This will deliver an additional £15 million into these areas over two years. It is to be paid for through a budgetary under-spend, an improved exchange rate and the removal of support from non-active farmers.
  • New Land Managers Options (LMOs) will be developed over the medium term, with probable implementation in 2011
  • Scottish Beef Calf Scheme to be retained
  • A review of how SFP is delivered in Scotland will be led by Brian Pack
  • Changes to the application process for Rural Priorities with greater support for new entrants and those installing slurry handling systems

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren said: “With this important announcement and his active engagement with stakeholders, the Cabinet Secretary has shown real commitment to tackling head on the serious decline in livestock numbers in Scotland’s hills and uplands and we congratulate him for the vision he has shown in reaching his decisions. These have not been easy decisions to make but he has arrived at a smart and strategic package of measures.

“The delivery of £15 million pounds over the next two years through LFASS will give a huge support boost to hill farmers in fragile and very fragile areas and, crucially, the scheme itself is to be re-focussed to ensure that those actively farming the hills and uplands receive the benefit.

“The Union has led calls for support payments to better recognise those who are actively farming and delivering the kinds of economic, social and environmental benefits that justify public support. The re-basing of the way payments are delivered through LFASS immediately tackles this thorny issue while the review of SFPs to be carried out by Mr Pack will help map out how Scotland will deliver support to its farming and crofting sectors in a justifiable manner in the future.

“In the Union’s manifesto for hill and upland farmers, launched last autumn, we identified three key strands that we believed, if adopted, could address the significant decline in livestock being kept in some parts of Scotland. These were a re-based LFASS with improved funding levels, retention of the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme and new LMO measures that better support those farming in Scotland’s hills and uplands. While identifying new LMO options is a medium term issue for the Scottish Government, we believe that the Cabinet Secretary has delivered on all three of our priorities today although some will take longer than others.

“We are delighted that the Cabinet Secretary chose to reject the use of Article 68 as a route to addressing these issues. This article, available under the CAP health check, could have seen up to 10 percent removed from all single farm payments to help support specific sectors. Our members were against the use of such a measure that ran the risk of removing support from vulnerable cereal and dairy farmers to give to others with no guarantees the money would go to active farmers. The redistribution of support brought about by the adoption of Article 68 ran the risk of splitting Scottish farming in two and we are glad that it is has been ruled out as an option for Scotland.

“The publication today (10 June) of the review into the Scotland Rural Development Plan, as carried out independently by Peter Cook, will be digested by industry and others over the next few days. However, the Cabinet Secretary has agreed to look at ways to improve access to the Rural Priorities scheme and, through that scheme, better funding is to be directed at new entrants to farming and those required to upgrade their slurry handling facilities. These all mark a step forward for the scheme.”