What do the rest of the UK administrations know that the Scottish Government doesn’t?
Last month European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan granted member states an optional one month extension to the SAF application window, to make the deadline June 15, instead of May 15.
Every government in the UK has made a decision on whether or not to extend the Single Application Form (SAF) deadline but Holyrood is still humming and hawing over the issue.
Industry is split on whether an extension is needed – some farmers don’t want it because it could delay payments later in the year, while agents claim an extension is needed to ensure farmers can fill out their forms on time.
Farm minister Richard Lochhead and his cronies are still to decide on whether to extend or not.
In correspondence with a land agent, a top civil servant said: “We are still not in a position to take a decision on the possible extension to the deadline because the European Commission has not given full details of what would or would not be possible. We are lobbying them to get such details urgently, please feel free to join us so that we can be in a position to give Mr Lochhead fully informed advice.”
Did the details of the extension get lost in the post to Scotland?
Why is it the English, Welsh and Northern Irish farming departments were able to get the information and make a decision?
Lochhead and his team need to seek the missing details as soon as possible.
Farmers and crofters need to know one way or another if the deadline is to be extended or not.
Many will foolishly assume an extension is definitely on the cards and put their SAF application to one side.
Government’s failure to confirm its position on this option will leave these farmers at risk of having to fill out a slapdash last-minute application, if they find out late on that the original May 15 deadline is a go-er.