A north-east farmer who is still waiting for last year’s subsidy payment has accused Scottish Government of neglecting new entrants.
The farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of his subsidy claim being further delayed as a result of speaking out, said he and others in a similar situation were facing severe financial difficulty as a result of the payment delays.
The new entrant has recently succeeded his father on a tenancy on a farm in Aberdeenshire, and his father has transferred him his historic entitlements.
The farmer, who is married with two children, said because of the transfer of his father’s entitlements his claim was now being viewed as “too complicated” and it had been pushed to the “bottom of the pile”.
He said he had not received any money and was not able to take advantage of a government loan scheme set up to administer cash advances because his entitlement transfer had not yet been processed meaning he had nothing to base a loan against.
The farmer, who is waiting for an estimated £10,000 in subsidy monies, said without his wife’s income and financial support from his father, his family would not have been able to survive in the past six months.
“As a new entrant I should be at the top of the pile and not at the back,” he said.
“When you start out in farming, there’s a huge cost involved and it’s a long time before you get your money back. The government says they want to support new entrants but established farmers get dealt with first.”
He said government needed to prioritise getting payments out to new entrants because established farmers had produce, whether it be cattle or grain, to sell to tide them over in the meantime. New entrants, on the other hand, did not, he said.
“I have people shouting at me for money. I’m now having to pay people to come in and do a job for me which I could have done myself if I had the money to buy the machinery needed for it. And if I was not lucky enough to have had help from my Dad and my wife working I would have had to sell livestock at a loss just to get money for food and petrol,” said the farmer.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman last night called on the farmer in question to contact their local rural payments office.
However the farmer said he and his agent had been calling the office on a weekly basis for months to no avail.
The spokeswoman added: “As we promised in May, every effort is being made to fix this issue and teams have been working flat out to get Cap payments out as fast as possible. We have made significant progress but anyone who thinks they should have had a Cap payment and hasn’t should contact their local area office or the RPID customer helpline. We will look into such cases as a matter of priority.
“We continue to focus on completing the remaining 2015 payments as quickly as possible and making improvements for 2016.”