Scottish farmers who lost out when reductions were made to a number of support scheme claims back in 2015 will finally be contacted next week with details of how they can appeal the decisions.
An estimated 4000 farmers and crofters who experienced a reduction or penalties to their 2015 claim for the Basic Payment Scheme, Greening, Young Farmer or Less Favoured Area Support schemes will receive a letter or email from the Rural Payments & Inspectorate Division (RPID) explaining why those reductions or exclusions were made, and how to appeal the decision.
Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon apologised for the long delay in addressing the issue.
She said: “We are sorry that it has taken this long to issue these letters but it is important to right this situation and these letters will enable us to do this in most cases.
“Many farmers and crofters have already discussed any reductions with Scottish Government staff. The letters provide a further opportunity to examine those reductions and provides a route to appeal those reductions if necessary.
“The letters and emails will be issued in batches, concluding at the end of the year.
“If customers have not been contacted by that time then it’s likely there was no scheme penalty applied and the monetary amount of any scheme reduction is less than £100. Customers with no reductions will not receive a letter.”
Land agents Galbraith estimate that up to 4000 farmers have been subject to a reduction or exclusion to their 2015 Single Application Forms (SAF).
The technicalities which may result in an area of land being excluded from SAF would include ineligible land covers, crops or invalid seasonal let agreements. However, according to Galbraith, some deductions were made in error by RPID.
Stewart Johnston of Galbraith said: “It’s very good news for farmers and landowners.
“We have raised the issue in the past and we are aware of many cases where the exclusion seems arbitrary. For some farmers the amount deducted runs into five figures. ”
Farmers will have 60 days from receipt of the letter to submit an appeal to the rural payments department. The department should then reply within 60 days, accepting or rejecting the appeal and specifying the grounds.
Stewart Johnston added: “Some farmers are well aware that the deduction has been applied incorrectly, while others may not be.
“We advise everyone to look out for the letter from RPID and consider whether they should make an appeal.”