Urgent action needed on CAP payment delays

Common Agricultural Policy payments from the EU are hugely important to rural communities across Scotland. They help keep farmers and crofters in businesses and spill over into the wider rural economy as people buy the supplies they need.

In recent years we have seen major changes in the way that this money is allocated. This has meant that the UK and Scottish Governments have had to look again at the way money is divided between different farms in different areas of the country.

There is no hiding from the fact that this has been a difficult process or many people. But whereas farmers in England and Wales have received regular updates on payments, 80% of farmers and crofters in Scotland are yet to receive the financial support that they are entitled to.

The SNP cannot blame Westminster this time. They have sole responsibility for paying this EU funding out to farmers. We have seen delay after delay, with the new £178 million computer system Scottish Government Ministers told us was necessary failing to deliver.

Earlier this week I pressed the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs over these payment delays at the Scottish Parliament but he seems to be in denial over the problems that his government have caused. The delay to direct payments will have a knock on effect on other areas of funding too.

When it comes to supporting our farmers, SNP Ministers seem more interested in talking about the powers they want then using the extensive powers they already have to support our agricultural sector. With farmers and crofters among those hit worst by the terrible flooding we have seen in recent weeks, it is time that they got a grip and gave our agricultural sector the help it deserves.

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