NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government of a loan scheme for LFASS 2018, delivering vital support to farmers and crofters in April.
An announcement by the Scottish Government that it will once again put in place a loan scheme to deliver 90% of payments under the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) is welcome news for Scottish farmers and crofters at an uncertain time for Scottish agriculture.
The Scottish Government made the announcement on the eve of NFU Scotland’s AGM and Conference which will take place on Thursday 7 February and Friday 8 February in Glasgow. Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing will address delegates on Friday morning.
At a time of challenging market returns and significant uncertainty over Brexit, Scottish farmers and crofters want the Scottish Government to maintain the £65 million LFASS budget for the 2019 and 2020 claim years, recognising the regulatory challenges to deliver this crucial element of support.
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “This support, via the national loan scheme which will be delivered in April, is critical to ensuring that farmers and crofters can continue to deliver for rural Scotland –providing jobs and opportunities. LFASS support is a key injection of cashflow in to our remote communities, driving growth and tackling the causes of rural depopulation.
“Loan offers will be sent out in batches with the first batch being sent out on 1 March. It’s important that farmers and crofters opt in if they want timely delivery of the support due via LFASS.
“This comes after the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing attended a meeting of our Less Favoured Areas (LFA) Committee in January and committed to working towards protecting the £65 million budget of LFASS in future scheme years. This welcome commitment came after tireless and continuous work from our LFA Committee.
“This week, the Cabinet Secretary will address delegates at the NFU Scotland conference in Glasgow and representatives from communities across Scotland, from Shetland to Stranraer, will want to hear the Scottish Government deliver certainty on it’s ambition to retain this budget for 2019 and 2020 scheme years – with support to be delivered in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
“NFU Scotland remains utterly committed to securing sensible changes to future support, including support to the Less Favoured Areas.”