Scottish Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesperson Mike Rumble MSP today said new figures revealing a spike in farm debt underline the challenges facing Scottish agriculture.
Debt statistics published by the Scottish Government showed that agricultural debt increased by more than £150 million last year.
The figures show that farms had £2.2 billion in outstanding at the end of the 2015/16 financial year. This increased from £2.03 billion the year before.
Commenting Mr Rumbles said:
“This increase in debt underlines the challenges facing Scottish agriculture. It is no surprise that farmers have been forced to increase borrowing. The shambles over Common Agricultural Policy payments mean it would have been a surprise if debt had not spiked.
“Thousands of farmers were forced to wait months to receive the money they were due. The bills did not stop arriving during this period. Hundreds of farmers are even now yet to receive their farm payments and there are huge concerns within the sector over what will happen next year too.
“The SNP have singularly failed to give farmers the confidence they need that these problems will be addressed and payments will come out on time next year. Farmers have lost confidence in the Scottish Government and given the year that many producers have had it is hard to blame them.”