The beginning of the end of Scotland’s farm support payments nightmare started yesterday when the Government announced that 500 farmers had been paid the 20% balance of CAP funds they were owed.
Rural Economy Minister Fergus Ewing confirmed that more than 9.5 million euros had left Government coffers and more money was on the way.
The top-up funds follow the 80% part-payment processed by the Scottish Government as a temporary measure when it was clear the toiling IT system could not cope with administering the new CAP system. Some of the country’s biggest farmers are among the complex cases that have still to be resolved.
Scotland’s chief agricultural officer, David Barnes said that farmers who have received no funds until this point would receive the full 100% in one payment once all issues had been resolved.
Mr Barnes emphasized that farmers would not be charged interest on loans despite receiving official letters that had to be sent under EU rules.
“Farmers can ignore the letter. Government will foot the bill,” he said.
Mr Ewing also confirmed that support payments for upland sheep would be made from July, although the rate per ewe that farmers will be paid has yet to be confirmed.
NFU Scotland (NFUS) policy director Jonnie Hall said he believed the rate was likely to be less than the anticipated 100 euros per head, but not as low as 75 euros.
Mr Ewing also reiterated his commitment to getting the balance of the remaining 10% of applications processed as quickly as possible.
“We have now paid out basic payment and greening worth £216million too over 16,000 farmers,” he said.
He also undertook to place payments for 2016 on a “proper footing”.