- Part of:
- Farming and rural
Payments to begin in December.
The first Scottish direct farm payments should begin arriving in bank accounts by the end of December, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has said.
In an update to industry representatives, Mr Lochhead confirmed the Scottish Government is on course to start making payments by the end of the year.
Following EU reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Scottish Government has been required to implement a complex new regime at the same time as moving to a system where payments are based on area, rather than historic production. The change means that the Scottish Government now has around four million payment entitlements to issue - covering around 400,000 fields - and around 21,000 Single Application Form (SAF) applications to process, as well as 1,300 farms to inspect.
In order to avoid unnecessary delays, Scottish farmers will receive their 2015 direct payments in two parts – as happened when the Single Farm Payment was introduced in 2005.
The first instalment will be worth a minimum of 70 per cent of the total value of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Greening and Young Farmer payments. The first payments, to about a quarter of claimants, should start to arrive in bank accounts by the end of the year.
The majority of farmers should receive their initial payment by the end of January, with all first instalments expected to be paid by the end of March. The balance of payments is due be settled in April.
Mr Lochhead said:
"Against the difficult background of these complex EU reforms, the Scottish Government is on track to begin making direct farm payments in December - with the first payments due to start reaching bank accounts by the end of the year. As happened when Single Farm Payments were introduced back in 2005, Scottish farmers will receive this year's direct funding in two instalments, with the initial payment worth a minimum of 70 per cent of the total value – and if we can pay more, we will.
"This is the first year of the new CAP reform we are implementing and it's the biggest and most complex reform in a generation.
"There can be no doubt the three payment regions and coupled support schemes requested by industry – as well as the move to area-based payments required by Europe – have greatly added to our enormous administrative challenge but the message I always got was that this is a price worth paying to deliver a better policy for Scotland.
"To put this in context – these EU changes mean that we now have around four million payment entitlements to issue - covering around 400,000 fields - and around 21,000 SAF applications to process, as well as 1,300 farms to inspect. There is still a great deal to do.
"My officials have been working extraordinarily hard to get us to this point and continue to work flat out ensure we can pay as much as possible to as many as possible as soon as we can.
"I recognise and am sensitive to the cash flow issues facing the agricultural sector, which is why the Scottish Government is setting up a dedicated telephone line that farmers and crofters will be able to call for information and guidance. This will launch shortly. I am also due meet the banks this week, where I will seek assurances about the support they are offering farmers and crofters at this time. I will also keep industry updated on progress."
The EU payment window runs from 1 December to June.
Just over 21,000 Single Application Forms were received by the Scottish Government, of which around 19,160 include claims for the Basic and Greening payments.
Administering the phased move to area-based payments for three payment regions, and with three coupled support schemes, means the Scottish Government has to issue around four million payment entitlements - covering around 400,000 fields - and inspect around 1,300 farms in addition to processing around 21,000 Single Application Forms.