MSP Stewart Stevenson asks for clarity on rural pay

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has asked for clarity over potential delays with the Common Agriculture Payments.

The query came after a ministerial update at Holyrood, and was directed towards Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead.

He said: “The basic and greening payments process has been at the heart of what the cabinet secretary has said, but farmers also wish to be assured that coupled support for beef and sheep and, indeed, the £60 million for less favoured areas are also on schedule to be paid in a reasonable time.”

The minister responded explaining that some payments could be delayed in the coming months but that resources were focused on minimising the effect on any other payments.

Mr Lochhead siad: “Stewart Stevenson is right that we have to recognise the importance of the payments other than the basic payments that will happen in the coming months.

“Normally, we pay the beef calf scheme in April and the less favoured area support scheme payments go out around March.

“I have said publicly already that some of those payments could be delayed by a few weeks, because the message that we have had from the industry is that all our efforts and resources should be focused on the basic and greening payments.

“However, clearly I am keen to minimise any impact on the other payments, given the fragility of some of the sectors involved and the cash-flow issues that they face.”

The Common Agricultural Payments is an EU system of agricultural subsidies and programmes.

It is the EU’s single largest common policy and accounts for 40% of the entire EU budget.