The Scottish Government has invested £180 million in the computer system responsible for farm payments but NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick claims this “expensive and badly functioning” piece of equipment should be consigned to the scrapheap.
Writing on his blog, he states: “If the CAP futures IT system, installed at a cost to taxpayers of £180m, had been a tractor, it would have been returned to the dealer a long time ago with a demand for a full refund.”
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McCornick believes the Scottish Government is flogging a dead horse by continuing to stick with it. While he admits there have been improvements in inputting information, he claims there has been no similar upgrading in performance.
He instances basic support and greening payments now being made in three stages, rather than the two stage process seen in 2016. “That is a step backwards, not forwards,” he said.
Only days ago, the Scottish Government issued an announcement on a “parachute drop” of money into less favoured areas, sidestepping computer problems on that support scheme.
Commenting on this, McCornick said: “There remains no clear timetable when the system will be able to deliver less favoured areas support, which directs £65m into the rural economies of some of our more remote and vulnerable areas.”
His attack on the system was based on numerous farmer meetings attended by the presidential team in recent weeks, as well as phone calls in recent days to officeholders and staff. “Frustration and anger are building once again,” he warns.