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Stackyard News Oct 06

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    Solution To Rural Development Delays Critical

Scotland’s Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS), worth £61 million, is too important to be derailed as a result of bureaucratic delays, according to NFU Scotland. The Union is continuing discussions with the Executive, emphasising that the scheme represents lifeline payments to farmers.

At a recent press conference, the Scottish Executive suggested that delays to LFASS payments may result from the associated delay in the approval of the Scottish Rural Development Plan (SRDP) in Europe. A combination of factors could mean approval of Scotland’s plan is delayed until Autumn, months after LFA payments would normally be issued to farmers. The payments to existing participants in agri-environment schemes should be less affected as these would normally be issued towards the end of the year anyway. However, further detailed clarification is being sought on this issue.

NFUS Chief Executive Andy Robertson said:

“I have spoken to senior European Commission officials who are very clear that the beneficiaries of rural development schemes should not suffer as a result of the administrative delays.

“The traditional payment window for LFA support between March and May covers a ‘hungry gap’ for the Scottish farming community. Spring represents a time of significant costs for livestock producers, such as buying in feed, and yet there is little income before livestock sales in the autumn. Therefore, the impact of a block on LFA payments will be severe, not just for individual farm businesses but for the whole rural community

“It is crucial that the Executive ensures farmers do not suffer over spring time as a result of delays.”

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