CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

Duncan demands public inquiry into farm payments shambles

SCOTLAND’S farmers could be forgiven for thinking they have been abandoned by the SNP government. Richard Lochhead, the cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the longest serving environment minister in Europe – as he is so fond of telling people – has presided over a payments fiasco which would make the Marx Brothers blush.

28.04.2016.

SCOTLAND’S farmers could be forgiven for thinking they have been abandoned by the SNP government. Richard Lochhead, the cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the longest serving environment minister in Europe – as he is so fond of telling people – has presided over a payments fiasco which would make the Marx Brothers blush.

Despite repeated warnings, farmers expecting their December payments under the Common Agricultural Policy were left in no man’s land when Mr Lochhead failed to deliver. Not only could he not tell them when they would receive their funds, he could not tell them how much they were due.

Farmers have been left in the dark, forced to waste time negotiating with bank managers, as Mr Lochhead spoke darkly off “problems” with the Scottish Government’s new £180million IT system for payments.
 
And then, to add insult to Injury, Mr Lochhead decided that it was actually the fault of farmers themselves – if only they hadn’t made things so complicated.
 
It took a delegation of hundreds of farmers to literally picket the Scottish Parliament to force the SNP to stop obsessing about another independence referendum and deal with the crisis affecting farms, with the First Minister herself wading in. We are nearly in May and over a third of farmers are yet to receive a penny.
 
Only the Scottish Conservatives can provide the strong opposition required to hold the SNP to account. We demand an immediate and independent public inquiry into the payments shambles. We want to see a farming minister who takes responsibility, instead of blaming London or Brussels at every turn. We want to see a move away from the SNP’s obsession with the central belt. A vote for the Scottish Conservatives is a vote for rural Scotland.

 

This article appeared in The Scottish Farmer on 28 April