NFU Scotland has unveiled its proposals for new measures to be made available to Scotland’s farmers and growers as part of the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP).
In the Union’s manifesto for Scotland’s hills and uplands, launched last November, it recommended that the non-competitive Land Managers Option (LMO) scheme, part of the SRDP, be redesigned to become better funded and more relevant to producers.
It was intended that LMOs would provide support for the provision of economic, social and environmental improvements across Scotland. Although this is a non-competitive scheme, the existing list of options available for funding has only attracted one-third of the eligible farm businesses in Scotland. A financial ceiling on funding available under the scheme is also placed on each farm business and this is seen to be have been a barrier to uptake.
The Union has designed a further 26 new LMOs to be considered for inclusion and will seek the financial ceiling on those farm businesses applying to the scheme to be at least doubled. The proposals include measures for all sectors of agriculture and, if adopted, could help reinvigorate farmers and growers across Scotland.
Commenting on the LMO proposals, President Jim McLaren said:
“Our recipe for injecting life back into Scotland’s agricultural sector and halting the steep decline in our livestock numbers was clearly laid out in our manifesto. We highlighted that three areas held the key – the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme (SBCS), the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) and LMOs. Future funding for the SBCS was secured as part of the CAP health check in November, we are at the heart of discussions on the future for LFASS currently taking place at home and in Europe, and now we are coming forward with our proposals for LMOs.
“Our substantial list of proposed LMO measures were drawn up after a wide consultation process around the country to ensure that we constructed options that would make a genuine difference to farm businesses. During that consultation process, it was clear that raising the funding ceiling on individual businesses was crucial.
“Given the current review into Scotland’s rural development programme – worth £1.6 billion to the rural economy - the publication of our suggested LMO measures and funding ceilings is certainly timely. We have already had the opportunity to discuss our work with Scottish Government officials and we have now met with Peter Cook, the consultant charged with carrying out an overall review of the SRDP.
“The SRDP review will look at whether all current schemes within the programme remain the most appropriate for Scotland and whether the balance of funding between the schemes should be altered. We will argue that moving funds into a non-competitive, remodelled LMO scheme will best serve rural Scotland and provide a much-needed economic boost to the agricultural sector.
“The LMO scheme was originally launched four years ago as the Land Managers’ Contract Menu Scheme, and with the inclusion of animal health and welfare measures, was seen to be groundbreaking – not just in the UK but in Europe. There is an opportunity to make LMOs a model for Europe once again, by providing a proper level of assistance to farmers for meaningful projects whilst boosting the delivery of wider environmental, social and economic benefits.
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