CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

Late payments for farmers blamed on SNP ‘incompetence’

18.11.2015.

Farmers across Scotland will receive vital CAP payments up to four months later than usual after the SNP admitted it wouldn’t be able to process the money on time.

Despite being warned of this danger for more than a year, the Scottish Government failed to take action to ensure the payments would arrive, as promised, during December.

And today, the Scottish Government confirmed the payments would be made in two instalments, with only a quarter of farmers receiving the first instalment by the December deadline.

It means farmers will be forced to borrow more money from banks, with many facing considerable uncertainty as a result.

Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan said:

“Mr Lochhead’s astonishing U-turn has cost farmers much needed money.

“The European Commission allowed member states the freedom to make split payments, ensuring farmers had at least a share of their EU funds from October 16th. I had this confirmed by EU Farming Commissioner, Phil Hogan in writing.

“Mr Lochhead told me this was ‘of no use’ a mere 3 weeks ago. The reality is that farmers could have had the money in their pockets now. Mr Lochhead is presiding over a shambolic operation, and is sowing confusion and doubt wherever he goes. He must come clean now or frankly consider his position. Scottish farmers deserve better than this.”

Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson said:

“Richard Lochhead was given the responsibility of designing a CAP regime specifically designed for Scottish needs by the UK Government.

“Yet, despite commissioning a purpose-built computer system that cost £100 million more than its original estimate of £70 million and now totals £10,000 per payment application, he has failed to deliver.

“His announcement that a quarter of farmers will receive 70 per cent of their payment in December with the rest having to wait until January, February or March simply confirms that there have been enormous problems with the verification part of the claims.

“That’s something I warned him about months ago – yet it is individual farmers who will pay the price for his ineptitude.

“In a debate in the Scottish Parliament on September 23, I said that basic payments being made to all primary producers from day one of the December window would be a measure of his grip on the support system he designed.

“By any measure, he would appear to have lost that grip – and hiding behind the excuse that split payments were made the last time CAP payments were reviewed is just not good enough.

“The farming sector is experiencing very difficult economic times as we all know, but many farmers will now be at the mercy of their banks to see them through the weeks and months ahead until their basic payments drop through the letter box.

“Extra borrowing will be required and will not come cheap, and all that is down to the incompetent stewardship of the Scottish Government.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

For more on the story visit:

http://www.nfus.org.uk/news/2015/november/payment-scheme-let-down-scottish-farmers

The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly warned about the late payments system:

http://www.scottishconservatives.com/2015/09/prompt-payment-of-cap-support-in-december-will-be-test-of-lochheads-resolve/

http://www.scottishconservatives.com/2014/02/snp-letting-farmers-changes-cap-payments/

http://www.scottishconservatives.com/2015/03/farmers-need-alternatives-to-snps-online-cap-applications/

Contact Andrew Johnston

Chief of Staff, Ian Duncan MEP