Winter Turmoil for Farming Communities

Following a poor harvest this summer Scotland’s farming communities face intensified economic turmoil this winter because of the Scottish Government’s abysmal progress on single farm payments. Three quarters of our farmers and crofters will struggle into the new year before they see any payments hit their accounts because the Government is dragging its feet.

Today in the chamber I demanded clarity on the delays.  As we head into a long winter this crisis is risking the jobs and livelihoods rural communities depend on.

Scottish Government mismanagement of the scheme has seen millions overspent on computer systems that are not fit for purpose.  Land assessments have not been carried out and banks have had to set up emergency loan schemes.    Yet again Richard Lochhead’s failure to deliver on this scheme has been exposed.

I asked three simple questions of the Cabinet Secretary: what percentage of SAF applications have been successfully processed, how many farms have still to be inspected and when will individual farmers know when they will be paid?  The Cabinet Secretary could not answer any of the questions posed by MSPs across the chamber.  We need a full statement to the Scottish Parliament – we need accountability and farmers need to know when payments will be made

The full exchange, including my questioning, can be found in the Scottish Parliament Official report.