An SNP internal briefing paper on the delivery of farm support, which was “accidentally” circulated to all MSPs and other organisations, laid the blame for much of the current payment delay squarely on the degree of scheme complexity which had been sought by NFU Scotland.
However, questioning the timing yesterday – days before the union’s annual meeting – NFUS president Allan Bowie said the Scottish Government should go beyond “spin and deflection” and face the fact its failure to deliver had meant the wheels of Scotland’s rural economy had stopped turning.
Bowie said: “We knew it was going to be challenging under a new scheme to deliver payments in December as has been the case for many years, but Richard Lochhead repeatedly raised the expectations of the whole industry that payments would come in the normal timeframe.
“That delivery mechanism has failed and as it stands only one-third of Scottish farmers and crofters have received any of the support that traditionally arrives in early December.”
He added: “Non-delivery means we now have a cash crisis on many farms and crofts with many family businesses currently being supported by extended credit from the trade and flexibility from their bank.
“While all will hope for the continued support of banks and suppliers, we cannot expect this to continue in all cases.”