Orkney MSP Liam McArthur today backed NFU Scotland calls for answers from Scottish Ministers over agricultural support payments.
NFU Scotland, backed by 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). Farmers and crofters are still searching for questions.
The Scottish Government has announced today that payments under the new Basic Payment Scheme are to be made in two instalments of 70 percent and 30 percent. However, only a quarter of Scottish farmers will receive their first instalment by the end of December; the majority will receive their 70 percent part-payment by the end of January and some will not receive the first tranche of BPS until the end of March. The balance payment of 30 percent is to be delivered to all by the end of April, just a few short weeks before Scotland’s farmers and crofters will be expected to submit their claim forms for the 2016 scheme.
Since June 2014 the Scottish Government has spent £178m putting the new support scheme for farmers in place, however Orkney’s MSP has today warned that the Scottish Government had “categorically failed where other EU member states have coped” and the Scottish Government’s chosen delivery system has only delayed a vital source of income for Orkney’s farmers and as a result many of them are bracing themselves in the expectation that farm payments will not be distributed before Christmas.
Commenting, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur said:
“For far too long local farmers and crofters have been asking time and again about receiving direct support payments before the end of the year. The Scottish Government has had 18 months and £178 million pounds to get this right, but now Scottish Government Ministers admit only a quarter of Scottish farmers will receive their first instalment by the end of the year.
“Given the difficult year farmers have faced in Orkney this news will not be well received. Indeed, questions must yet be raised as to who will receive a first instalment by the end of the year and on what basis some farmers will have to wait further still. Indeed, the mess the Scottish Government has created begs the question as to their ability to deliver support under other crucial schemes.
“I am therefore reiterating earlier calls that the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs Committee must immediately step in and call an emergency meeting to hold Scottish Government Ministers to account. It is high time they present the full picture to farmers and crofters right across both Orkney and Scotland.”
Notes to Editors:
Further details of the NFUS response to the Scottish Government announcement are available at http://www.nfus.org.uk/news/2015/november/payment-scheme-let-down-scottish-farmers