Farmers across the region are facing major financial uncertainties due to delays by the Scottish Government in processing EU subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy.
Payments under the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) are to be made in two instalments of 70 percent and 30 percent, with only a quarter of farmers set to receive the first instalment by the end of December. The remaining 75% of farmers could be waiting until the end of March before they see their first payment, with the final instalment to be delivered to all by the end of April.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray has accused the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, of putting the future of those farmers at risk because of his "dithering" and the inability of his department to put in place a new computer system to process the payments on time.
Elaine Murray MSP said:
“Farmers across this region have experienced a hard enough time recently without having to put up with this dithering from the Scottish Government as well. Many rely on these payments to keep their businesses going, but now they’re faced with a lottery-like draw which could see their first instalment being delayed until the end of March. Everyone knew that the EU support system was complicated, but the design and implementation of the Scottish Government's payments system has been a source of worry for months now. The computer programme developed to process the payments has been plagued by delays, and should have been resolved long before now.
“We are now in a ridiculous position where local farmers are faced with lending money from banks until they receive the payments which they are entitled to, which of course will result in them having to pay interest on these loans. I think it’s only right therefore that the Scottish Government now commits to compensating farmers for interest paid as a direct result of delayed payments.”