SCF urges crofters ‘if in doubt shout’ over CAP

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) is urging crofters to speak up if in any doubt about their region allocation for their Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) payment to stop the 60 day clock.

“Following the issue of a letter from the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspection Directorate (SGRPID)”, Joyce Wilkinson, a director of the SCF explained “we are advising crofters to read the letter carefully and if they are in any doubt about how they are being ‘regionalised’ to contact their local SGRPID office immediately.

“The letter says the recipient has only 60 days to respond or they are stuck with the allocation. We are saying to crofters ‘if in doubt, shout’. As soon as you bring what you think is a mistake to the attention of SGRPID the 60 day clock stops ticking”.

Ms Wilkinson continued: “crofters’ in-bye land is being designated either as Region 1 Permanent Grassland or Region 2 Rough Grazing or even Region 3 Category A Rough Grazing. The region it goes into makes a huge difference as to how much is paid per hectare in Basic Payment.”

Scottish Government calculations are putting the basic payment for Region 1 Permanent Grassland (PGRS) at about £175 per hectare, Region 2 Rough Grazing (RGR) Categorories B,C and D at about £28 per hectare, and Region 3 Rough Grazing Category A at only £8.00 per hectare.

This letter only deals with in-bye; a further letter will be issued allocating common grazings, which, it is thought, will be put automatically into Region 3.

“It is therefore essential to ensure that all improved land is in Region 1,” Ms Wilkinson added. “There is not a clear definition as yet, but the advice we have been given is that if the grassland has been improved by reseeding at some time and the crofter is doing something to keep its condition up, such as topping, applying fertilisers and so on, then it can be classed as Permanent Grassland and put in Region 1.

“If more than 40% of a parcel of land is Permanent Grassland then all of it is classed Permanent Grassland. Conversely, if more than 60% is Rough Grazing then all of it is Rough Grazing. So it is in crofters’ interest to ensure that any PGRS they have is counted.”

Ms Wilkinson concluded: “The SCF has always advocated having only two regions but the farming industry lobby convinced Scottish Government to adopt three regions and we now have a system which will leave many crofters in an untenable situation. We want to hear from crofters what their position is, how they are being affected by the three region system. Scottish Government officials are trying to be helpful, but they can only be so if perceived problems are brought to their attention. As I said: ‘if in doubt, shout’.