Farmers in Scotland should look out for notifications of any reduction or exclusion on their support scheme payments, rural consultants have warned.
Emails or letters from the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) will begin arriving from Monday 22 February. A second batch will be issued on 1 March.
The notices, called Reduction and Exclusion letters, will set out any deductions from Basic Payment Scheme, Greening, Young Farmer or Less Favoured Area Support Scheme payments.
But Stewart Johnston at the property consultant Galbraith warned farmers to check the information carefully because deductions may have been made in error.
Mr Johnston explained that deductions could be made on claims for what SGRPID deems ineligible land such as scree, incorrect field boundaries or watercourses.
These are often taken from aerial photography surveys of the land and can be wrong, Mr Johnston said.
Other issues may arise from cross compliance breaches or late submission of applications in 2020, or Less Favoured Area Support Scheme transgressions.
“For many people this will be the first time that they have been notified of any reduction made to their payment or any land that has been deemed ineligible,” Mr Johnston said.
“It is extremely important that farmers look out for these notices and respond with any corrections needed as soon as the email or letter arrives.”
Challenges must be made within just 60 days of the date on the letter by submitting an appeal under the Rural Payment (Appeals) (Scotland) Regulations 2015.
Once lodged, the SGRPID will consider the appeal and hold a review meeting with the farmer in the following 60 days. It will then decide if there is a case to change the original decision, Mr Johnston said.
SGRPID has more advice on Reduction and Exclusion letters (PDF)