Date lodged: 9 July 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development regarding the risk of land abandonment in disadvantaged areas in the event that Scotland is not allowed to continue to pay Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) funding in full during temporary or transitional Brexit arrangements.
Answered by: Fergus Ewing 6 August 2018
LFASS is vital for our rural economy and remote communities throughout Scotland, providing support to over 11,000 farmers and crofters.
Unfortunately, the EU rules do not allow us to continue with LFASS unchanged from next year. That is why, to provide as much financial stability as possible during these uncertain times, the Scottish Government will continue with LFASS next year at the maximum that EU rules allow, which is 80% in 2019.
No decisions have been made regarding LFASS 2020 where under the current EU rules payments would be restricted to 20%. Clearly the prospect of a 20% payment is one that will have a significant impact on farmers and crofters in Scotland’s remote and fragile farming areas. Cabinet Secretary, Mr Ewing raised the importance of this issue with European Commissioner, Phil Hogan when they met in Brussels on 24 April.
Scottish Government officials are actively exploring all possible options to maintain vital LFASS support to the industry in 2020. Unfortunately, the Scottish Government is unable to give farmers and crofters assurance on LFASS beyond 2019 as, despite repeated requests, the UK Government has still not given a clear statement about funding guarantees post Brexit.