Borders farmers are left facing payment run lottery

NFUS president Allan Bowie says farmers are very disppointed.
NFUS president Allan Bowie says farmers are very disppointed.

Farmers in the Borders face a payment run lottery after the Scottish Government finally announced its plans for delivering CAP support.

After months of repeated requests from NFU Scotland to provide details on when Scottish farmers could expect delivery of the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) into rapidly-emptying bank accounts, and receive information on what the value of those payments would be, the Scottish Government plans will come as a bitter disappointment and leave all unclear on when support will eventually arrive.

Scottish Government has announced that payments under the new BPS are to be made in two instalments of 70% and 30%. However, only a quarter of Scottish farmers will receive their first instalment by the end of December; the majority will receive their 70% 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% 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.

With Scotland’s investment of £180 million in a computer delivery system - costing nearly £10,000 per BPS application - clearly failing, NFU Scotland is calling for Scottish Government to give categorical assurances that failures to deliver direct support will have no knock-on effects on the delivery of other vital schemes including Less Favoured Areas support, beef calf and ewe hogg coupled schemes and agri-environment application approvals.

NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie said: “For some considerable time, NFU Scotland has informed the industry that Scotland’s traditional payment timetable would not be met and now the Cabinet Secretary has come clean on what is likely to be delivered.

“With this announcement, we are a long way short of what farmers need and, given the hugely difficult year, disappointment in this timetable will be immense.

“The installation of a flawed computer payment system, and the lumbered approach to delivery, consigns farmers to a payment run lottery in which they may know what level of payment they will receive, but they have no idea if they will get it in December, January, February or March. That is categorically unacceptable.”

MSP John Lamont added: “This is a huge blow for farming in the Borders, and many will now struggle over the winter months with their finances. We are now also in the ludicrous situation where farmers will receive their payments only a few weeks before it all starts again for 2016.

“It is completely unacceptable that farmers in the Borders will now suffer because of the Scottish Government’s complacency.”