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Farm subsidy payment ‘hidden problem’

SUPPORT: Technicalities which may result in an area of land being excluded include ineligible land covers and crops.
SUPPORT: Technicalities which may result in an area of land being excluded include ineligible land covers and crops.

Thousands of farmers and crofters may be in the dark about a reduction in their farm subsidy payments, claims Galbraith.

The rural agency is urging all Scottish producers to check their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments for the past few years to ensure they are correct.

The Scottish Government last night confirmed letters to producers outlining deductions to their payments had been delayed.

“Most people will check their payment when it comes in, and if it looks to be broadly what they were expecting they assume all is correct,” said Stewart Johnston from Galbraith’s office in Aberdeen.

“Only when they contacted the rural payments department subsequently did it become clear that a deduction had been applied.”

He added: “For one farmer this went all the way back to 2015 and they had never been made aware that 100 acres of land had been deemed ineligible for BPS due to a technicality for the whole of that time.

“It’s a hidden problem because the government is not informing farmers when part of their claim is judged invalid.”

Mr Johnston said some of the technicalities which may result in an area of land being excluded from BPS payments include ineligible land covers and crops or invalid seasonal let agreements.

He said farmers have 60 days from receipt of notification of any problem to submit an appeal, and the Scottish Government’s rural payments division should then reply within 60 days to accept or reject the appeal.

“In many cases the sums involved are not significant but for some farms it can make a difference to the viability of the business,” added Mr Johnston.

“We would advise farmers to check their payments carefully, especially if the amount is less than they expected.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are currently working on providing information to those who had a deduction as quickly as possible.

“Unfortunately, work to correct this situation has been delayed twice because of Brexit and suspended due to coronavirus, but has since restarted, alongside our other vital work,” he added.

“Once letters advising of deductions have been issued, we will process any appeals as quickly as possible.

“No one that wishes to follow up with an appeal will be prevented from doing so as a result of the delay.”

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