Holyrood on track for farm support payments this month

Richard Lochhead expects most producers will be paid by the end of January. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Richard Lochhead expects most producers will be paid by the end of January. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The Scottish Government remains on course to begin making the first partial payments of farm support measures before the end of December, rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead confirmed yesterday.

In a glass-quarter-full statement to the Scottish Parliament, the cabinet secretary announced that the first payment run would get under way before Christmas.

He added that about 25 per cent of the country’s 21,000 claimants were likely to receive the first instalment of their dues before the end of the year.

The minister said: “I said last month that the first instalment would be at least 70 per cent – but if we could pay more, we would.

“That remains the case and my officials are working flat out to process claims as quickly as possible as we implement very difficult and complex Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms.”

He said that his department had to be extra vigilant with the new rules: “We must do everything we can to avoid Scottish farmers facing incorrect payments, or the loss of funding through EU disallowance that their counterparts elsewhere faced in the past.”

While he pointed out that the EU payment window ran from December to June next year, under his proposed timetable he expected the majority of producers to be paid by the end of January.

“I would like to thank farmers for their patience at this time, and to urge any individuals who are experiencing difficulties to contact their local area office or the new RPID customer helpline that launched last week.”