Farmer subsidy loan scheme to close for applications on February 9

More than 4,000 farmers have not applied for the loan.

Farmers and crofters have 15 days left to apply for subsidy support through the 2017 BPS loan scheme.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing yesterday confirmed that the scheme would close for applications on Friday, February 9.

Launched in September last year, the scheme offers eligible farmers and crofters up to 90% of their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment early.

It follows previous loan schemes to administer payments as a result of problems with the government’s farm payments IT system, which caused lengthy delays in administering monies.

To date the 2017 BPS loan scheme has paid out more than £300million to 13,000 producers, however more than 4,000 farmers and crofters have not applied to the scheme for support.

“I am conscious that some farmers and crofters have yet to take up the offer of a loan,” said Mr Ewing.

“Those who wish to do so, have until February 9 to confirm they wish to accept the offer that has been made to them.

“With two weeks until the scheme closes, I would therefore encourage all farmers and crofters, who are yet to accept the offer of a loan, to do so as soon as possible.

“This is their money. It does not take anything away from the NHS or other public services. It’s theirs, they deserve it, and they should have it.”

NFU Scotland’s director of policy, Jonnie Hall, said the cash paid out under the loan scheme had been invaluable to the rural economy.

He said: “While more than 13,000 have taken up the loan, it is a surprise and a concern that so many have not.

“Many of the 4500 who have declined the loan or not yet opted in are likely to be smaller farmers, but, with the deadline of February 9 now set, it may be appropriate for them to reconsider their decision.”

He said winter weather and difficulties experienced by many in making and sourcing fodder and bedding, highlighted the need for government to build on its speedy deliver of 2017 BPS loan scheme payments and meet its timetable for delivered Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) and coupled payments for beef calves and hill ewe hoggs in April and May.

Mr Hall added: “For those farming in Scotland’s less favoured areas, these payments are often more important financially to the unit than BPS and Greening and those payment are still several months away.”