Duncan backs Committee call for Lochead to give ‘urgent’ update over farmers payments
Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland, has welcomed the demand by the Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs Committee that Richard Lochhead provide farmers with 'clarity on the timeframe for (farming) payment as a matter of urgency'.
In a letter to the Rural Affairs Secretary, Committee Convener Rob Gibson writes:
"The Committee shares the concerns, expressed by the NFUS, on the potential direct impact of any delay to the traditional payment timescale and the downstream impact of this on rural communities."
Last week, Ian offered to give evidence to the Committee on the implications of not making payments on time, noting that other EU countries had been able to set out a payment schedule.
Yesterday the President of the National Farmers Union Scotland, Allan Bowie, used his State of the Union address to plead with Mr Lochhead:
"At our AGM in February, we heard from the Cabinet Secretary that everything was on track for payments to be made in the normal early December window. Ever since the Highland Show, the Scottish Government has changed its line to payments being made in late December.
"The Scottish Government has spent £178 million to date putting a system in place to deliver these payments.
“My message to the Cabinet Secretary is clear – the ball is in your court. Tell the farming industry when payments will be delivered and tell them the value…and, for goodness sake, please do it immediately!
Commenting, Ian said:
"We are 8 weeks from Christmas and farmers have been left to twist in the wind. For months, they have asked two simple questions – when will I be paid and how much will I receive? Mr Lochhead has chosen not to answer. The Rural Affairs Committee is right to ask for an 'urgent' update. Farmers deserve to know what their future holds.
"It's little wonder that Scotland's farmers, fishermen and rural stakeholders are asking themselves, ‘What use is a Government Minister, if he refuses to answer any questions about what his government is up to?"
Notes to editors
Ian Duncan is the Conservative MEP for Scotland, and Chair of the ECR Policy Group on the Rural Economy.
Letter from the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee - http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_RuralAffairsClimateChangeandEnvironmentCommittee/General%20Documents/20151028_Convener_to_CabSec_on_CAP_basic_payments_schedule.pdf
NFU Scotland State of the Union address - http://www.nfus.org.uk/news/2015/october/bowie-delivers-first-state-union-address
Contact Andrew Johnston
Head of Office, Ian Duncan MEP