Scottish Liberal Democrat rural spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP today said the Scottish Government has once again let down farmers after Fergus Ewing confirmed that it will miss the CAP payment deadline, leaving farmers without vital funds.
In a meeting of the Rural Affairs Committee this morning, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for the fiasco asked for trust while also refusing to answer questions about a critical ‘secret’ independent report.
Fergus Ewing refused to be drawn on questions from North East MSP Mike Rumbles on how deep the problems with the payment system go, what is being done to fix it, and the Fujitsu report’s finding that “many quality and assurance and governance practices have been knowingly sacrificed.
Commenting, Mr Rumbles said:
“This morning Fergus Ewing confirmed he has presided over CAP shambles 2.0, once again letting down farmers who are in need of vital funds. It is no surprise that the Cabinet Secretary has failed to meet this deadline - he has back-tracked on every commitment and promise made over the CAP debacle.
“It is clear that he and the Scottish Government have had other priorities and our rural economy has been at the back of the queue. That needs to change now, before even more damage is done and this shambles is turned into a trilogy of failure.”
Fergus Ewing also came under fire from Mr Rumbles after claiming the system was ‘fit for purpose’, despite farm payments going unpaid and potential fines of up to £60 million.
Mr Rumbles added:
“How many times do we have to listen to Fergus Ewing claim to have the situation under control, only to find out that there have been further delays, more errors and the system is still dysfunctional.
“He is completely oblivious to the disarray in our agricultural sector and that our rural economy has taken damaging hit after damaging hit. It has been almost two years since this debacle began and there is no end in sight.”