Scotland’s LFA sector under pressure

© Cayetano (wikicommons)

Scottish farmers earned GBP 596m (Total Income From Farming – TIFF) last year, according to farm income estimates published by the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday. Scotland’s farmers saw 2011 inflation-adjusted incomes fall by 1% on aggregate against 2010 levels, with strong gains for cereal growers on the back of market volatility.

Input costs rose relentlessly during 2011: animal feed by 18% year on year; fertilisers and lime 29%; energy costs by nearly a third. One consequence of increased costs was a GBP 5,400 drop in Farm Business Income (FBI) for specialist Less Favoured Areas (LFA) beef holdings, while FBI levels dropped by GBP 1,600 for cattle and sheep LFA holdings.

“It’s clear that the difficult inherent economics of Scottish farming, particularly in LFA, makes continued subsidy from the CAP essential, especially at a time when food security is becoming a big global issue,” Scottish National Party MSP Alyn Smith told journalists. “To acquiesce in the exportation of grass-fed nutritious and indigenous food production would be an act of madness. This is a vital national interest,” he declared.

“We need a continuation of simple, easy to administer direct payments, and the maintenance of the hugely successful LFA scheme. I’m not sure that the Commission’s proposals fulfil these goals, so I’ll be working hard to make sure that the reforms reflect our aspirations.”

Peter Crosskey
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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.