Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has hit out at the Scottish Government after the Agriculture Secretary confirmed in a statement to parliament today that only a quarter of farmers will receive payments under the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) before the New Year.
Mr McArthur has repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to provide information on when Orkney farmers and crofters could expect delivery of the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Richard Lochhead confirmed that a new helpline has been launched last week to help farmers get to grips with the reformed Common Agricultural Policy.
However, it has been reported that the helpline has been criticised by some farmers for being of “little use.”
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“The Agriculture Minister has come before Parliament today to confirm the worst kept secret in Scottish farming. Only a quarter of farmers will receive these vital payments before the New Year. The majority will be forced to wait until as late as April for their first instalment.
“Mr Lochhead concluded his remarks this afternoon by asking parliament to ‘support the work of the Scottish Government’. However, in light of delays and the spending of £178m on IT systems, it is difficult to see in what way that support has been earned.
“Questions still remain. There is still no clarity on who will be paid and when, creating uncertainty and potentially serious cash flow problems for farming and related businesses in Orkney. Meanwhile, introducing a helpline that appears inadequate, is hardly likely to inspire the farming community in Orkney with confidence.”