NATIONAL RESERVE claims are now open to Scottish and Welsh farmers disadvantaged by the allocation of single farm payment entitlements.

Categories covering investments, leased land, purchase of leased land, re-conversion of production and new entrants have a closing date for applications of Mar 14.

Applications for two further categories – dairy farmers‘ hardship and transfer of leased land – will be accepted until May 16.

SFP entitlements in Scotland and Wales are based on historic support levels in thereference years 2000-2002, but many farm businesses developed or expanded insubsequent years.

And they could be disadvantaged by the switch to the new decoupled support regime,according to NFU Scotland.

But the national reserve is funded by scaling back payments to all producers, and the initial 3% retention could rise depending on demand, warns union chief executive Andy Robertson.

“The key question for farmers to ask themselves is whether the activity on their farm, which would have affected CAP subsidy, increased since the reference period,” said Mr Robertson.

“If the answer is yes, it is very likely that, with supporting evidence, they can make a successful claim to the national reserve.”

The Scottish Executive, which sent details to farmers this week, has stated there will be no automatic issue of national reserve entitlements.

Producers will have to submit an application and meet strict criteria.