Scottish farm groups call for earlier BPS payments

Farming bodies across Scotland have called on the Scottish government to bring forward farm support payments to help businesses cope with soaring input costs.

In a letter to rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon, 11 organisations, including NFU Scotland and AIC Scotland, say unprecedented cost inflation is pushing food production to the brink of collapse.

Feed, fertiliser and fuel prices have more than doubled in the past 12 months as supply chains have been disrupted by Covid-19, Brexit and conflict.

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The letter states: “Unprecedented input cost inflation is causing many to reassess their production choices, to the extent that the critical mass of Scotland’s agri-food sector is under real threat.”

The signatories admit there is no quick fix to the current crisis itself. But they urge Ms Gougeon to look at mitigating actions to ease cashflow which could safeguard the food supply chain, allied businesses and associated jobs.

“We are, therefore, collectively calling on the Scottish government to pay the Basic Payment Scheme and Greening as soon as possible,” the organisations say. 

“Measures such as this, which help to reduce risk and build confidence, are needed to ensure that there is no scaling back of production in Scotland’s agricultural sectors.”

Inputs crisis

The organisations acknowledge that the Scottish government has already said it will make payments in October – two months earlier than scheduled.

But they point out that that intention was set out before the current input cost crisis fully took hold. And they say the advanced payments schedule proposed would, in fact, see farmers and crofters receive support payments later than under the previous “loan” scheme.

The letter stresses that the food and farming groups are not calling for extra funding.

“This is about the accelerated delivery of already committed resources in order that input cost rises can be endured and to help ensure the continuity of agricultural production at economically sustainable levels,” it says.

Farmers Weekly has requested a comment from Scottish government.

Letter signatories

  • NFU Scotland
  • AIC Scotland
  • National Sheep Association Scotland
  • Quality Meat Scotland
  • Scottish Land & Estates
  • Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland
  • Scottish Beef Association
  • Dairy UK
  • SQC
  • Scottish Tenant Farmers Association
  • Scottish Pig Producers