In a session of Scottish Parliament questions this afternoon Mike Rumbles MSP condemned the Scottish Government’s record on farm support payments. Linking a 48% decrease in farm incomes to years of catastrophic mishandling by the SNP.
The Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs spokesman and North East MSP highlighted that £184 million worth of CAP subsidy that would normally enter the rural economy in December will be held back until June.
Less than half of farm businesses have had this year’s round of payments processed and recent figures show that 36% of farm businesses are operating at a loss, with many more dependent on subsidy to balance the books.
Mr Rumbles said: “The Minister was quick to shrug off the Scottish Government role is this catastrophic downturn in farm business income. Meanwhile, tens of millions of pounds that should be boosting our rural economy is sitting in government coffers.
“This is the fifth year in a row that farm incomes have gone down. Years of uncertainty created by this government and the disastrous bungling of farm payments over the past 24 months has pushed our agricultural sector to breaking point.
“On top of that our farm businesses are also being threatened by a huge cut to subsidy through a hard Tory Brexit and the Scottish Government have made no commitment to ring-fence support payments past 2020.
“The Minister must admit that serious errors have been made and take steps to meet this crisis head on. The Scottish Government should put in place a guarantee that next year’s round of CAP payments will return to normal and that targeted support for our rural industries will continue come what may.”
Notes for editors:
- The full statistics are available at: https://beta.gov.scot/news/scottish-farm-incomes/
- Decrease is across all eight farm types (Specialist Sheep, Specialist beef, cattle and sheep, cereals, general cropping, Dairy, lowland cattle and sheep, mixed ) with dairy farms experiencing the largest decrease – on average 97% decrease in farm business income.
- Estimates from the Scottish Government’s annual Farm Business Survey show that the average Farm Business Income was £12,600 in 2015-16, representing a drop of £11,500 from the previous year. Since a peak in income in 2010-11, commercial farms income has decreased 75 per cent in real terms.
- The average value of all grants and subsidies in 2015-16 was £38,100, a fall of six per cent on the previous year.
- FBI does not include costs for unpaid labour (farmer, spouse, other partners, directors and managers) that are, to some extent, dependent on the income of the farm business. The unpaid FTE (full-time equivalent) of a farm is the number of hours worked by regular unpaid labour. One FTE is equal to 1,900 hours a year.