Brussels delays Scottish foot and mouth emergency payments

The European Commission has been urged to ‘speed up’ its decision on payments to Scottish farmers through the Scottish Ewes Scheme.

Announced as part of the Scottish Parliament’s package of emergency measures following the foot and mouth outbreak, the scheme offers £6/ewe to producers and crofters. This payment cannot be made until the Commission publishes the official scheme document.

But, publication has been held up in Brussels, with the EC requesting further details before any such document can be approved.

And, in order for the Commission to justify a scheme of this nature it has to satisfy state rules, of which the Scottish Parliament is confident.

Richard Lochhead, Scottish cabinet secretary for rural affairs, said: “Due to a delay in Brussels, we anticipate that the emergency payments will now be with sheep farmers by the end of the month.”

“The timescale is very much in the hands of the Commission, but we are now confident that we are over the hurdles and will soon be in a position to deliver these vital payments.”

The Scottish Parliament had hoped that payments would be made by mid-November and have assured farmers that all correct procedures have been followed to secure essential consent from Brussels.

“We are determined to see these payments correctly made as quickly as possible, which we hope if the Commission is now satisfied, will be by the end of November.”