With the vast majority of farm support claims submitted by the 15 May deadline, a call has been made for the Scottish Government to make the most of this head start to issue a clear timetable of when farmers can expect their payments.
Following the announcement that a provisional total of 19,862 applications for common agricultural policy payments had been received without the need for an extension to the deadline this year, NFU Scotland said that this put the process a month ahead of where it had been in 2015 and 2016.
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“And we want Scottish Government to build on that momentum to quickly issue a clear and accurate payments timetable to farmers and crofters to allow them to plan their expected cashflows in the year ahead,” said union president Andrew McCornick.
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said that, while there had been a slight decrease in overall applications, this reflected the continuing trend of recent years.
“We believe this may be a combination of changes to eligibility and some individuals with a very small payment deciding not to apply,” Ewing said.
He also reminded anyone who had missed the deadline that late applications would still be accepted with a modest penalty reduction.
• Despite reports of vulnerabilities revealed in the recent Fujitsu technical report, a spokesman confirmed that the support system escaped the cyber attacks which had hit health service computers.
“But we have reviewed our architecture and associated management processes anyway as a matter of good practice,” he added.