Dairy payments ease pressure on Scots farmers

Farm leaders say payment of some £2.4m by the Scottish government to milk producers will put valuable funds into fragile bank accounts.

Money paid to Scottish dairy farmers under the EU Adjustment Aid Scheme will arrive in farmers’ bank accounts in the coming days, said rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing.

As announced last month, all applicants will also now receive an increased payment rate to ensure all available EU funding is distributed.

See also: Sorry is not enough, Scots farmers tell Sturgeon

Funding is being targeted towards the hardest-hit dairy farmers and issued in advance of a 30 September deadline set by Brussels.

Mr Ewing said he was able to increase the payment rates to all farmers because some funding had remained unclaimed by the end of the application period.

He added: “Increased payments under this scheme will land in farmers’ bank accounts in the coming days.”

The highest payment rate of £5,000 will be made available to farmers on Bute, Arran, Mull and the Kintyre peninsula to protect the supply base for Campbeltown creamery.

Farmers who were paid less than 20p/litre during 2016 will receive £4,250, farmers paid less than 25p/litre will get £2,500, and those farmers who received 25p/litre or more will receive £1,500.

Additionally, farmers who met the criteria of less than 1m litres of milk production in 2015 will also receive a supplementary payment of £452.72.

Pulling together

NFU Scotland milk committee chairman James Rankin said payments showed what could be achieved when the union, Scottish Dairy Hub and Scottish government pulled together.

It would see more than 700 of Scotland’s dairy farmers commit to milk recording and production profiling efficiency measures, said Mr Rankin.

“More importantly, it will push some £2.4m of valuable funds into fragile bank accounts.

“In the depths of the dairy crisis, some Scottish dairy farmers were receiving the lowest milk prices seen for several generations

“This scheme strives to support those worst affected by that crisis, and we welcome the Scottish government’s decision to make those payments now.”

Recovery not complete

Milk prices in Scotland have lifted in the past 12 months, but NFU Scotland says the recovery process is far from complete.

“There is huge frustration building at farm level as producers watch commodity prices hit levels unseen since 2013, while farmgate prices stagnate,” said Mr Rankin.

He added there was an “urgent need for milk buyers to treat milk producers fairly and respectfully by delivering a fair return from such strong market positions”.