‘Excessive bureaucracy’ turns Scots farmers off grant scheme

A £10m capital grant scheme for buying new equipment has not been taken up by many Scottish farmers because of the application process’ excessive bureaucracy, says land agent Galbraith.

The Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme (SACGS) is a pilot programme that opened in September, designed to help farmers purchase equipment that protects the environment, reduces greenhouse gas emissions or supports sustainable farming.

Farmers could apply for up to 50% (60% in the Highlands) of an item’s predetermined cost to a maximum of £20,000.

See also: How farmers are capitalising on Countryside Stewardship Scheme

The Scottish government said not needing to submit a quote would make the process more streamlined.

However, Galbraith said most of its clients have found the level of paperwork that needs to be in place before applying too onerous.

Stewart Johnston, head of farm consultancy for Galbraith in Aberdeenshire, said: “They had to have already completed a carbon audit, to have detailed nutrient plans and veterinary plans already written up and to submit all this before applying for the grant. Most folk had completed their veterinary plans but not the other documentation.

“Farmers are generally supportive of the Agriculture Transformation Programme, but there is a significant degree of work that farmers have to undertake to meet the requirements.”

He added it is likely that most funding schemes from the Scottish government would now be of a similar vein and encouraged farmers to undertake a carbon audit and look at nutrient plans now in order to smooth the process in the future.

SACGS is due to close on 11 October. A full list of eligible equipment, plus information on how to apply, is available on the Scottish rural payments website.

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