A rally at Holyrood by farmers and crofters in protest at the farm payment delays was due to go ahead yesterday (Thursday) even after a late intervention by the first minister.
Farmers and crofters still waiting for a direct subsidy payment at the end of March will receive a cash advance from the Scottish Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the Scottish Government will use up to £200 million of national funds to provide cash support while Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) claims are being processed.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with NFU Scotland, the First Minister said: “The transition to a new, more complex CAP that is affecting payment schedules right across Europe is happening as farmers and crofters are dealing with poor market prices and challenging weather conditions.
“We are less than half way through the payment window allowed by Europe, and the majority of Scottish producers – more than 10,000 – have already received a subsidy payment. However, payments are not being made as quickly as we would like.
“I very much recognise the cash flow issues facing Scottish agriculture, which underpins our £14 billion food and drink industry. That is why the Scottish Government has earmarked up to £200 million of national funds so that any farmer or crofter who has not received an instalment by the end of March receive a nationally-funded payment from the Scottish Government in April.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has confirmed that today’s announcement will also enable Scottish Beef Scheme payments to be made in the middle of April.
It comes just days after the Cabinet Secretary announced national funds will also be used to pay hill farmers and crofters.
in Scotland’s most fragile and remote rural areas who rely on Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) funding will receive a payment in March as usual.
Mr Lochhead added:
“In Scotland, we are implementing decisions taken with the industry to tailor the policy to deliver better outcomes for Scottish agriculture. I have always been clear that adding this extra complexity would prove extremely challenging to implement, but it is taking longer to make payments than we had hoped.
“Europe’s deadline for making direct payments is June 30, and the majority of Scottish farmers and crofters have now received a first instalment worth about 80 per cent of their basic and greening claim.
“We are continuing efforts to speed up progress, such as taking on extra staff, but given the current difficulties facing Scottish agriculture the Scottish Government will use national funds to ensure farmers and crofters will receive support, totalling hundreds of millions of pounds, in the coming weeks.”
Notes To Editors
As of Monday March 7, 2016, 10,164 first instalments worth about 80 per cent of basic and greening payments had been made, which equates to almost 56 per cent of eligible claims.
Under this nationally-funded Scottish Government scheme any farmers and crofters who have not yet received a first instalment by the end of March will automatically receive a cash advance worth 80 per cent of their CAP claim. Support under this scheme would be offset against the claimant’s CAP payment. De minimis state aid rules will apply.