Scottish farmers face an uncertain timetable over when their farm payments will be paid this winter.
Details over when Scottish farmers and crofters could expect to receive their direct payment under the news Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) were revealed at Agriscot on Wednesday (17 November).
The Scottish government announced that payments under the new BPS will be made in two instalments, of 70% and 30%.
However, only a quarter of Scottish farmers will receive their first instalment by the end of December.
The majority will receive their 70% part-payment by the end of January and some will not receive the first tranche of BPS until the end of March.
The balance payment of 30% will be delivered to all by the end of April, just a few short weeks before Scotland’s farmers and crofters will be expected to submit their claim forms for the 2016 scheme.
In a statement, NFU Scotland said the announcement was a “bitter disappointment” and would “leave all unclear on when support will eventually arrive”.
Speaking at Agriscot, NFUS president Allan Bowie said the announcement fell a “long way short” of what farmers and crofters needed in a hugely difficult year.
He added: “The installation of a flawed computer payment system, and the lumbered approach to delivery, consigns farmers and crofters to a payment run lottery in which they may know what level of payment they will receive, but they have no idea if they will get it in December, January, February or March.
“That is categorically unacceptable and does nothing to assist those who face huge challenges to their cashfows this winter, regardless of what sector of agriculture they are in.”
Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish government is on track to begin making direct farm payments in December – with the first payments due to start reaching bank accounts by the end of the year.
“This is the first year of the new CAP reform we are implementing and it’s the biggest and most complex reform in a generation.
“My officials have been working extraordinarily hard to get us to this point and continue to work flat out to ensure we can pay as much as possible to as many as possible as soon as we can.”
The EU payment window runs from 1 December to June. Just over 21,000 Single Application Forms were received by the Scottish government, of which around 19,160 include claims for the Basic and Greening payments.