Single farm payment test eased
The 10-month rule governing single farm payments has been eased. Farmers and crofters are now required to have land at their disposal for a period that, at a minimum, covers May 15 each year.
This new arrangement is introduced following European agreement of increased flexibility in the rules governing payments under the Single Farm Payment Scheme. It eradicates the 10-month rule which required farmers to possess land for almost one year to be eligible for the scheme.
This led to farmers leasing grazing land, which they may only have used for a few weeks, for the entire 10-month period, reducing the availability of pasture land and increasing personal outlay. The new arrangement makes land more freely available and more competitive.
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said:
"This change is good news for farmers and crofters as it will sit more comfortably alongside Scotland's traditional letting system. It is particularly good that the change can be made without compromising the basic standards of for the environment, food safety, animal health, and good agricultural and environmental conditions.
"I hope those involved in letting arrangements will work together to clarify responsibilities for cross-compliance conditions on land let to several producers".
The Single Farm Payment Scheme is worth approximately £400 million to Scotland's farmers and crofters.
Farmers will be able to safeguard themselves against penalties incurred under cross compliance rules through legally enforceable clauses in letting agreements. These should ensure costs are reimbursed for non-compliance incurred by others.