Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

9th March 2016





The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association welcomes yesterday’s announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead that a £200M relief package is to be made available as an advance payment to those still waiting for their CAP payments at the end of March. Having listened to the concerns of the industry, the First Minister stated the government is halfway through the payment window but payments are not being made fast enough and this is creating cash flow issues for farmers to the wider detriment of the rural economy.

Commenting on the situation STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: “This is indeed good news and evidence that the government has listened to the concerns of farmers and appreciates the knock-on effects which the cash flow crisis is causing. Above all, yesterday’s announcement of the £200M rescue package and last week’s promise of LFASS payments by the end of March will now enable farmers to meet pressing short term bills such as feed, fertiliser and seed and provide some certainty to plan the year ahead.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for farmers emerging from a difficult winter with commodity prices on the floor, reduced support payments, now compounded by the payment fiasco. There was never going to be a seamless transition from one CAP regime to another, with Scotland’s varied agricultural landscape, the complexities of a new system and the added demands put on it by the agricultural industry and a plethora of last minute changes. However, it’s very clear the IT system has not been fit for purpose, plagued by poor decision making, mismanagement and misinformation. Questions must now be answered for lessons to be learned and whether the IT system will be capable of delivering BPS in the future. These issues may well have arisen whichever government was in power but this is a civil service matter requiring independent scrutiny, investigation and resolution.

“Many tenant farmers anticipated payment delays in their forward budgets. As tenants, they are at the sharp end unable to use rented land as borrowing collateral but the extremely wet winter and low commodity returns have undoubtedly heightened the need for prompt CAP payment delivery.

“The industry must now be careful not allow themselves to be used as political pawns in point- scoring prior to a Scottish election. There is a distinct danger of disproportionality with some of the current political rhetoric on the delays of CAP payments in the press and social media. Farmers need Scottish political and public support for our industry and we must be very careful not to allow ourselves to be alienated in what are austere times for many. “Scottish agriculture has enjoyed unparalleled government support since devolution and our food and drink industry has been a runaway success story so let’s concentrate in getting the system working and not put that at risk from political opportunism in the run up to the parliamentary elections.”