Full support payments reinstated for Scottish hill farmers

Scottish hill farmers and crofters will now receive all of their upland support payments for 2018 – rather than 80% as previously announced.

The Scottish government said the 2018 Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) budget will match that of the 2017 scheme.

See also: £45m of upland loans ready to roll in Scotland

It follows a decision by Brussels to defer changes to the LFASS scheme by a year until 2019.

All farmers and crofters will now receive 100% of their 2018 LFASS grant rather than a 2018 parachute payment worth 80%.

NFU Scotland welcomed the announcement that full payments would be made, saying the decision would safeguard vital support to hill and upland farmers and crofters.

The union said it had been seeking clarity and swift action from the Scottish government over the past few months and was pleased to see that they had done just that.

The reinstatement of the LFASS 2018 budget – which has returned to £65m – was significant given the downward pressure on other areas of Scottish government spending, it said.

But there was still work to be done to find a solution beyond 2018, it added.

Warm welcome

NFU Scotland vice-president Martin Kennedy said: “Given the financial pressures facing many cattle and sheep producers in the LFA this decision will be warmly welcomed.

He added that the union would continue to work with the Scottish government on future arrangements for LFASS 2019 and beyond.

Some benefits for local communities, their local economies and wildlife could only be delivered by farmers and crofters employing extensive, yet active, grazing systems, said Mr Kennedy.