The Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS)
is an area-based support scheme that aims to ensure continued agricultural land use in order to contribute to the maintenance of a viable rural community; maintain the countryside; and maintain and promote sustainable farming systems. LFASS is part of the SRDP
and in 2010 provided £65.5m to nearly 13,000 applicants.
LFASS is vitally important to many Scottish farmers, especially in the more remote and fragile areas. Without LFASS, Scotland could witness significant land abandonment with the concomitant loss of beneficial land management and negative consequences for rural communities. It is therefore important that this form of support is retained.
LFASS could, however, be better targeted at vulnerable units. The LFA covers 85% of Scotland’s agricultural land, yet within this area there is considerable variation.
In the longer-term, Scottish Land & Estates believes that Less Favoured Areas should be reframed as Environmentally Favoured Areas and we should move from the logic of support towards a logic of delivery. At the moment support is directed to the LFA because of the disadvantage that farmers and land managers in that area suffer. But this puts in place a whole system that casts the LFA as lacking. Yet LFA farmers and land managers also provide a great deal in terms of public goods.
Scottish Land & Estates believes that we should reward land managers in the LFA for what they can and do deliver rather than compensate them for what they cannot.