Angry farmers have castigated the Scottish Government after it emerged there are still thousands of basic payments to be made with just weeks left until the deadline.
Figures have been released by the Conservatives which show there are 7,870 applications for the EU payments still left to be processed – last week there were just 378 approved.
Under EU rules, all applications have to be processed by the end of the month or the government could face being financial penalties.
It has also emerged that even if all of the payments are issued, this would still leave 10% of the EU funds undistributed.
The Press and Journal understands the government could be asked to cover some of the costs of the cash, with the figure increasing, depending on how late the payments were handed out.
Yesterday, disgruntled farmers branded the situation a “shambles”.
Roddy Catto, a dairy farmer at Hillhead of Muirton Farm in Whitecairns, said: “It’s an absolute shambles, this has been going on for two to three years and they still haven’t sorted it.
“There will be 8,000 businesses worried sick about how they are going to make ends meet.”
Kevin Gilbert, a pig farmer at Womblehill, Kintore, added: “People set up direct debits to pay for expensive equipment, now they don’t know where the money’s coming from.”
Meanwhile, on a visit to Thainstone Mart, north-east MSP Peter Chapman argued the farming community’s cash flow had been “blown to bits” by the payment delays.
He also warned missed deadlines could have a major impact on the country’s economy.
He said: “We have three weeks left before the EU deadline for 95% of this money to be paid.
“If that is the situation in three weeks, we are in a situation of serious EU fines and that is what I’m concerned about – this could be hundreds of millions of pounds.”
The Scottish Government has said it will do all it can to pay the “vast majority” of the cash by the end of the month.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Since November, 13,279 farmers and crofters have received 80% of their anticipated full basic and greening payment in the form of national loans, with a total value of £275million.
“Over 9,900 farmers and crofters have now been paid 90% of their payment and most will begin to receive the final 10% from 12 June.
“We have made clear our commitment and intention to do all we can to make the vast majority of payments by the end of the payment period.”