Scottish Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP has today pressed on issues around CAP payments to the Rural Affairs Secretary in front of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee this morning.
Farm businesses across Scotland are to be invited, over the coming weeks, to take up another year of Scottish Government loans instead of their annual CAP payments. But, today, the Minister refused to explain why many farmers have declined to take up the loan, pleading ignorance over their ‘individual reasons’ for rejecting the scheme.
This year will mark the third year in a row that Scottish Government failures have forced the Minister to abandon paying Common Agricultural Policy subsidy on time. Opting instead for the temporary loan scheme that has been hugely unpopular in the agricultural sector, with over 5000 farmers snubbing the same offer last year.
Commenting Mr Rumbles said:
“The reason farm businesses have refused the Scottish Government’s loan is quite clear. They do not trust anything the government says.
“Our rural communities have been pushed from pillar to post. After 24 months of IT failures, delayed payments and broken promises it is no surprise at all that many business simply refuse to engage with the Scottish Government, and there is no end in sight.
“I was disappointed not to hear the Minister admit that trust is an issue, in the committee meeting this morning. Rather than take this opportunity to start rebuilding his relationship with farmers, he seems content to sit on his hands while thousands of rural businesses go short.”