Call for SNP to agree new loan scheme for farmers

Peter Chapman has called on the Scottish Government to agree a new loan system for farmers
Peter Chapman has called on the Scottish Government to agree a new loan system for farmers

Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Peter Chapman has called on the Scottish Government to agree a new loan system for farmers given ongoing problems with distributing CAP payments.

The Scottish Conservative MSP said figures this week showed that 481 farmers are still awaiting payments that were due last December.

Mr Chapman pointed out that Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing had previously assured the parliament that lessons had been learned from last year’s fiasco.

The North East Region MSP argued that farmers and crofters can ill-afford to have any further delays to receiving payments, with figures showing average incomes have dropped by 75% in the last five years and 48% in the last year alone.

Mr Chapman, Scottish Conservative Shadow Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “We were assured by the Cabinet Secretary that lessons had been learned and that there must be no repeat of the unacceptable CAP payment problems of 2015/16.

"Yet here we are in September and 481 farmers still await BPS (basic payment scheme) payments due last December.

“We only paid 90% of BPS by the end of June, yet England and Wales managed 99%.

"This is all due to a £178 million IT system which is not capable of doing the job and may not work properly until 2018.

“If there is any doubt that payments will be delayed again this year a loan scheme must be put in place at once.

“Farming Incomes across Scotland have plummeted and we cannot have another year of payment delays.

"The current average, at £12,600, is unsustainable, and that is after receiving CAP payments. Many farming families have been left in despair and unable to pay their bills.”

Mr Chapman also pointed out that the Scottish Government is cutting funding for the industry by tens of millions, with £40million coming from the Less Favoured Areas Scheme and £42millino from climate change schemes.

“This only backs up claims that the SNP have turned their back on the farming community, and explains why the industry did not merit a single mention in Nicola Sturgeon's programme for government,” he added.