A timetable for what is likely to be the farming industry’s last-ever payment of Common Agricultural Policy support has been published by the Scottish Government, with the first tranche of money scheduled for February.
Hard on the heels of the UK Government’s announcement that farmers will continue to be supported after the UK leaves the EU, Scotland’s Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing revealed the timetable, saying it was important to demonstrate the stability of the payment system to enable farmers to plan ahead with confidence.
Pillar One payments will start in February, and the first tranche of convergence payments, totalling £90 million, will be paid before the end of March.
Pillar Two payments will begin in April with the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme, the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme and the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme. Sheep support scheme payments will begin in May, and Rural Priorities, Forestry Grant and Beef Efficiency scheme payments in June.
Mr Ewing said: “We have taken a number of steps to ensure that adequate funding is available. Eligible farmers and crofters have received more than £340m through the National Basic Payment Support loan scheme, which paid up to 95% of individual payments from October.
“We have also issued more than 10,000 National Less Favoured Areas Support loan offers, worth £42.5m, with payments starting before the end of January for those who return their acceptance confirmation.”
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick emphasised the necessity of farm support after the UK leaves Europe, and said the union would be pressing Westminster for long-term funding commitment to the industry in the new year.
He added he would also look for further measures that would help farmers secure a fairer share of returns from the supply chain.