Sunday, April 26, 2009

Changes proposed for LFA payments

The European Commission has unveiled proposals to make changes in the way in which Less Favoured Area (LFA) payments are made. A policy review was set in train following criticism by the European Court of Auditors in 2003 (these things take time) that some countries were abusing the definition of 'less favoured'. This particularly applied to so-called 'intermediate' areas.

In its Communication the Commission suggests that payments should be made in future on the basis of 'biophysical' rather than socio-economic criteria. The Commission's view is that future payments should be based on soils, drainage, climate and terrain rather than socio-economic disadvantage to satisfy the public that the money is being well spent.

The proposals have caused alarm in Scotland where 83 per cent of the land area is deemed intermediate LFA and attracts funding of about £61m a year into livestock farming into this areas. Wales also has 80 per cent of its land area designated as LFA.

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