Farmers and crofters have been urged to respond to subsidy loan offer letters from the Scottish Government as soon as possible.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing confirmed that offer letters for the 2018 National Basic Payment Scheme Support Scheme had been issued to almost 14,000 producers.
Eligible farmers and crofters are being offered loans for up to 90% of their anticipated greening and Basic Payment Scheme payments for 2018 – a move the Scottish Government claims will inject more than £259 million into the rural economy.
“Having listened to industry concerns and following months of adverse weather conditions, I can confirm that the first direct loan offers for 2018 will begin to arrive this week offering farmers, crofters and rural businesses early access to support worth more than a quarter of a billion pounds,” said Mr Ewing.
“Only last week, I heard from the NFU Scotland and crofters in Grantown-on-Spey how this money will help support their colleagues feeling the effects of increased feed and fodder prices as a result of the recent adverse weather.
“While we will work to continue to make offers to the remaining eligible businesses, I would encourage anyone who wishes to apply for a loan to do so as quickly as possible.”
NFU Scotland’s policy director for Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) schemes and post-Brexit agricultural policy, Jenny Brunton, said: “While the response rate to previous loan letters has always been good, this is a reminder to all those who receive an offer to opt in and get their replies in ahead of the deadline if they wish to be considered for the first run of loan payments.
“This loan scheme gives farmers and crofters the opportunity to opt in for a loan that will go some significant way to easing the cashflow worries that are building on farms and crofts.”
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “Months of adverse weather conditions have caused difficulties for the industry and this money will help farmers already feeling the effects of increased feed and fodder prices as a result.
“I would encourage anyone who wishes to apply for a loan to so as quickly possible.”
The deadline to respond to the loan offer letter is September 28.