In recognition of the different physical and socio-economic characteristics across the regions, the European Union introduced the Less Favoured Area (LFA) designation to support farming where production conditions are difficult.
The criteria for LFA designation were first established in European legislation in 1975 (Directive 75/268 EEC and accompanying measures). There are 3 types of LFA's; all in Scotland fall into the category of simple LFA's marked by poor soils and low agricultural income. Scotland's LFA's are defined by:
(i) The presence of poor land of poor productivity, which is difficult to cultivate and with a limited potential which cannot be increased except at excessive cost, and which is mainly suitable for extensive livestock farming.
(ii) lower than average production, compared to the main indices of economic performance in agriculture.
(iii) a low or dwindling population predominantly dependent on agricultural activity, the accelerated decline of which could cause rural depopulation