New payment window now open

With the new Single Application Form (SAF) window now open, NFU Scotland is encouraging its members to prioritise filling out their forms.

The Union has been liaising with Scottish Government to ensure the system has significantly improved since last year and is able to cope with the applications.

Last year’s application process saw farmers left confused and frustrated with the new system not able to cope with processing the thousands of applications. At the time NFU Scotland achieved an extension to the closing deadline.

Unlike last year the European Commission is very unlikely to offer an extension to the window in the event that the Scottish Government’s IT system is unable to cope once again with the significant numbers of applications.

Farmers and crofters now have under two months to complete their forms, with the application window closing on May 16 and NFU Scotland is urging applicants to fill out their SAF as soon as possible, whether that is online, on paper or through their agent.

NFU Scotland is continuing to seek feedback from members who have completed their applications.

Jonnie Hall, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy commented: “While it is early days, it seems that the IT system is coping far better this time around than it did in 2015.

“A number of applications have already been successfully submitted, and many more are already on the system in draft. That said, it is also clear that we have not reached the time of peak flow – and that will be the acid test.

“I appreciate that farmers and crofters will be stretched right now by the demands of calving, lambing and spring work, but I would urge anyone aiming to complete their own SAF online to make time sooner rather than later.”

The union is also urging livestock farmers who plan to take cattle to agricultural shows to contact their abattoir to avoid penalties.

Many abattoirs have specifications, which put a maximum limit on the number of moves before a penalty is applied. If farmers explain that the moves on the passport are attributed to taking animals to shows and not a change of owner, the farmers are less likely to be penalised.

Abattoirs set their own rules, and as such, farmers are encouraged to speak to them ahead of the show season to obtain clear guidelines.

NFU Scotland’s Livestock Chairman Charlie Adamsaid: “NFU Scotland does not support penalising cattle which have too many moves. We are engaging with retailers to highlight that cattle that have ‘too many moves’ do not necessarily have a decreased animal welfare or are less efficient. We have also made it clear that moves within businesses should not contribute toward a penalty. Nevertheless, farmers need to be aware of the situation as it stands and we urge members to speak to their processor.”