Farming union blasts payment delays

National Farmers Union Scotland'NFUS'VICE PRESIDENT ANDREW MCCORNICK (corr)
National Farmers Union Scotland'NFUS'VICE PRESIDENT ANDREW MCCORNICK (corr)

Scottish farmers are calling on Scottish Government to immediately address the cashflow crisis in Scottish agriculture by delivering part payment to all claimants of the new Common Agricultural Policy support scheme.

Since the payment run started in late December, the total percentage of Scottish claimants who have received part-payment is only 35 per cent. It is likely that significantly less than 35 per cent of the total pot of available funding has been distributed meaning that the cash crisis on farms is deepening.

NFU Scotland has repeatedly called for Scottish Government to recognise that its delivery system remains badly flawed and only immediate steps to deliver 90 per cent of payments to 90 per cent of recipients can avert a worsening crisis for the whole Scottish rural economy.

At an event hosted by Regional Chairman Tom French, in South Lanarkshire this week, the union brought together farmers and representatives of key supply trades – agricultural machinery, feed and fertiliser – to quantify the impact that the late delivery of basic payments is having on other parts of the industry.

The meeting was attended by MSP for the South of Scotland Claudia Beamish and NFU Scotland vice president Andrew McCornick, who said: “It was abundantly clear from the input of the farmers and the trade representatives here today that the human element is a growing concern. The worry and concern of those still to receive payments, and what that means for their family and their business has seen many now fulfilling the role of counselling and helping their fellow farmers through what are difficult times.

“Clear and concise communications remains vital to that process. We heard today that letters of entitlement issued by Scottish Government have been incomplete and only added to the confusion and several felt that the helpline provided had failed to deliver any clarity on individual circumstances.

“Too many Scottish farm businesses still have no idea what the true value of their support will be and when they are to receive their part payment.

“Heading into the second week of February, only 35 per cent of claimants have received some funding. The only way Scottish Government can properly address this crisis is to drop its aversion to risk, and deliver part-payment to all claimants in the next few weeks. If you can issue a letter of entitlement, you can issue part payment.

“Those who are robustly supporting their customers by continuing to provide credit or extending payment terms are providing a huge service to the farming community but they cannot be left to carry the can for Scottish Government failings in delivering support.

“And those around the table were abundantly clear on their concerns about the knock on effects that the delivery system failure may have – Less Favoured Area Support Scheme payments, new headage schemes, Rural Priorities funding and agri-environment claims must not be casualties of a failed delivery system and a statement on timings for these schemes is also long overdue.”