Scots farmers half way through payment applications

Nearly half of farmers in Scotland have submitted their Single Application Form (SAF), with just over two weeks to go until the deadline.

Latest figures from the Scottish government reveal that at 26 May a total of 10,106 applications out of an estimated 21,000 had been submitted.

Of these 6,031 were online submissions and 4,075 were in paper format.

See also: Scottish farmers struggle with computer payments system

NFU Scotland’s director of policy Jonnie Hall said Scotland may have got off to a difficult start with this year’s SAF applications, but the situation had improved in the past three or four weeks.

Constant dialogue with the Scottish government and a programme of regular fixes to the website, meant that many of the glitches had been ironed out, he said. Things were not perfect, but they were working much better than they had been.

“The online system had an incredible number of teething problems, which caused an inordinate amount of frustration for farmers and agents. But we’re approaching the end of May and things are progressing well. The frustrations have diminished significantly over the past three or four weeks. It is still going to be tight, but we are getting people through online.”

Mr Hall said the extension to the application deadline to 15 June had been the right thing to do in Scotland, as had sticking with the online system.

While the whole process had proved a challenge, the belief was that the benefits would outweigh the negatives.

Online applications would pay off if they helped the government process applications more quickly, giving it a “fighting chance” of making payments in December, he said. “We want to put ourselves in the best possible position.”

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