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crofters delight at cash pay out

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    24 January, 2008

    CROFTERS and farmers yesterday (Wednesday) welcomed the news that they should receive a much-needed government subsidy pay out in the next fortnight.

    The European Parliament approved the new Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) yesterday morning, opening the door for the £61 million Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) payments to be made.

    Though it may take the European Commission another three weeks to formally approve the SRDP, the Scottish Government has promised to make an “at risk” payment over the next two weeks having received permission from Commissioner Fischer Boel to do so.

    The news was greeted with relief and enthusiasm with the agricultural community having a tough time feeding animals as stocks run low.

    Shetland NFU branch president Hazel Mackenzie said this was “excellent news” and “a very much needed payment”.

    She said: “The farmers and crofters will be feeling the pinch with winter feed supplies starting to run
    low, and the price of concentrates is quite a big bit of our budget.

    “Also we are looking to soon buy fertiliser, which has increased dramatically in price. This money will help cover these costs. I can’t wait to receive mine.”

    The LFASS payments have been approved as part of the SRDP, which is worth £1.6 billion over the next five years.

    Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: "That LFASS payments are proceeding is excellent news for Scotland's 13,000 hill farmers and crofters who rely heavily on these payments under normal circumstances and who have struggled in recent months following the impact of restrictions imposed during the foot and mouth outbreak."
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