Farm leaders have called on the Scottish Government for assurances over the future of a support scheme for Scotland’s most remote farmers and crofters.
NFU Scotland (NFUS) says the Scottish Agriculture Bill, which is going through parliament, must include measures to allow the continuation of the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) beyond this year.
Compliance with European rules means LFASS will have to change to an Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme from 2021, resulting in what the union describes as a “significant and destabilising redistribution of existing support”.
NFUS wants LFASS to continue in its current form until 2024 and for the scheme’s annual budget of £65 million to be retained.
“We need a commitment from Scottish Government that LFASS will continue as we know it for the foreseeable future because it does offer a critical amount of support,” said NFUS director of policy, Jonnie Hall.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is now more important than ever that the UK Government honours promises made during the 2016 EU referendum and replaces lost EU funding, providing a fair share to Scotland following the intra-UK funding allocation.
“The rural economy secretary is aware of the importance of LFASS funding in Scotland which is why we are the only part of the UK to offer this support which ceased several years ago in other parts of the UK.”