Thousands of hill farmers and crofters in Scotland’s most fragile and remote areas are set to receive vital support payments by the end of this week.
10,000 payments from the Scottish Government’s £65.5 million Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) 2014 will start to arrive in bank accounts by Friday (March 13, 2015).
Farmers and crofters can apply for LFASS 2015 funding, alongside Basic and Greening payments, in their Single Application Form (SAF). Active farmers who did not previously qualify for LFASS may be eligible for support under the 2015 scheme, which is still subject to European approval.
Mr Lochhead said:
“I am pleased to confirm that payments from the Scottish Government’s Less Favoured Area Support Scheme 2014 have now started, with £56.6 million due to reach 88 per cent of claimants in the first week.
“This funding will benefit Scotland’s rural economy, in particular our hard-working farmers and crofters who produce the food we eat, and who are among the most disadvantaged in Europe because of the naturally poor quality of vast majority of agricultural land in this country.
“My officials continue to work hard to ensure the remaining LFASS 2014 payments are made as quickly as possible, and we are firmly focused on making a smooth transition to 2015 scheme payments.
“Although the new Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) is still subject to formal EU approval, the European Commission has indicated it is content with our proposals for LFASS 2015. These include more flexibility when applying the criteria so that established, active farmers who were previously frozen out under the old rules may now qualify for support.
“I would therefore encourage all farmers and crofters to register for the new Rural Payments and Services website as soon as possible so they can apply for LFASS on their SAF when the window opens next week.”