Sheep and lamb on moorland in Scotland© Juice/REX/Shutterstock

The majority of Scottish hill farmers and crofters are due to receive letters offering 90% loans for government support grants – a vital funding pot for many following a difficult winter.

Over the coming weeks, about 11,000 hill farmers and crofters are set to get the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) 2017 loan offer from the Scottish government.

Those who respond to the letter quickly can expect to receive their loan payment at the beginning of April.

See also: Full support payments reinstated for Scottish hill farmers

About 85% of Scotland’s agricultural area is classed as less favoured, and these support payments are crucial to ensure the economic viability and sustainability of these remote areas.

NFU Scotland LFA chairman Robert Macdonald said: “This early LFASS payment loan is an excellent opportunity for those with hill ground to get the much-needed funding as early as possible and I would encourage anyone who receives a loan letter to fill out the form sooner rather than later.

“It is particularly important that those in less-favoured areas are on the front foot in terms of funding this year, following on from the dreadful weather we suffered last summer and autumn.”

NFUS: ‘Timely payments’ a must

The loan payments will be deducted from the mainstream EU payments after LFASS 2017 applications are fully processed by the Scottish government later in the spring.

NFUS also urged the Scottish government to secure timely payments of the Beef Calf and Ewe Hogg Schemes in the coming weeks.

“It is important that we secure Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS) and Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) payments for the farmers and crofters who need it by May of this year, allowing for them to meet costs from the challenging winter.”