Farm payment promises are called into question

Worried young farmer standing on field and  looking at papers from bank, tractor in background
Worried young farmer standing on field and looking at papers from bank, tractor in background
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Local MSP John Lamont has called for the Rural Affairs Secretary to provide an urgent update on the progress surrounding the Scottish Government’s problematic CAP payments scheme.

CAP funds, which are normally due in December, were delayed last year after serious problems with the online system.

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government confirmed that 3,500 businesses have received initial payments.

However, this equates to only 20% of claimants, falling short of the Scottish Government’s assurance that 25% would receive payment by the end of 2015.

Now, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead’s promise that “the majority of farmers should receive their initial payment by the end of January” is being called into question, as is the pledge that full payments will be received in April.

The NFUS has written to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs Committee and the Public Audit Committee to highlight their concerns.

John Lamont MSP said: “The Scottish Government’s promises about CAP payments have been broken time and time again. It’s hardly surprising that the NFUS and others are now questioning whether the latest promise, that the majority of farmers will receive some money in the next few days, is unlikely to be met.

“This calls into question the whole timetable and farmers are now worried that full payments will not be received by the end of April, even though these would be 4 months late.

“We’re fast approaching the ludicrous situation where farmers won’t receive payments before the application process starts again for another year.”

Mr Lamont added: “This is a massive problem for farmers in the Borders, who rely on these payments. They deserve better, which is why I am calling on Richard Lochhead to come to Parliament to provide some answers.”