CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

Lochhead has lost his grip on farm payments

The Scottish Government has admitted thousands of farmers are going to have to wait even longer to receive vital payments.

02.02.2016.

The Scottish Government has admitted thousands of farmers are going to have to wait even longer to receive vital payments.

Environment minister Richard Lochhead conceded in Holyrood today that the vast majority are still waiting to get CAP payments, despite the fact the SNP was supposed to deliver them by December.

Responding to a question from the Scottish Conservatives, he said just one in three had received their initial payments, with others not even knowing when they will get theirs.

The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly put pressure on the Scottish Government to explain to farmers why the crucial payments have been delayed.

Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan said:

“The Scottish Government has badly mishandled this whole episode, and it is Scottish farmers who are being left to pick up the pieces.

“The Cabinet Secretary is quick to pass the buck, but he cannot escape the fact that it is on his watch that this crisis has been allowed to develop.

“In September the EU allowed the Scottish Government to make early payments to farmers, only requiring that computer admin checks be conducted. We now know that the Irish Government took advantage of this flexibility.

“The Scottish Government had October and November to do this too. What we now know is that Mr Lochhead’s computer system was not working then, and is not working now.

“Mr Lochhead’s incompetence meant that a golden opportunity to get money into the hands of farmers was lost.

“Despite this, a combination of bad management and the shambles of the computer system means most farmers are still waiting for their payment, with many having no idea when they will receive the money.

“It is high time Richard Lochhead started taking responsibility for the situation and got on top of this issue.”

Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson said:

“The Scottish Government has always said it should be measured on its performance, and this is another example of the SNP letting down the people of Scotland.

“The announcement today that little over a third of payments have been made is a demonstration that Richard Lochhead has lost his grip on this issue, and it is farmers and crofters across Scotland who are having to deal with the consequences.

“The combination of late payments, severe weather and low prices are causing real hardship to farmers across Scotland, with many facing financial breaking point.

“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.”

Notes to editors:
The Scottish Conservatives have consistently raised the issue of delayed CAP payments:
http://www.scottishconservatives.com/2015/09/prompt-payment-of-cap-support-in-december-will-be-test-of-lochheads-resolve/
http://www.scottishconservatives.com/2015/11/late-payments-for-farmers-blamed-on-snp-incompetence/
http://www.scottishconservatives.com/2014/02/snp-letting-farmers-changes-cap-payments/