Post session update:
Speaking after Question Time in Holyrood today, Tuesday, having questioned Agriculture Minister Richard Lochhead on CAP payments, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said,
“Richard Lochhead accepted today that hundreds of Shetland crofters will receive a lower CAP payment than they were promised. His officials told a CAP meeting in Lerwick that areas of reseeded and improved croft land would get a higher payment than they are now going to receive. The Minister could not explain why Shetland crofters were given that advice by his government. Mr Lochhead now says that crofters will be able to appeal their land classification during 2016. I am now pressing him to explain exactly how that will work.
“These CAP payments will be later than promised and in many cases will be lower than promised. Crofters and farmers across Shetland will be disappointed that the government’s position on croft land payments has changed.”
Pre session statement
469 of Shetland’s 1000 croft businesses have appealed the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) payments they are due to receive. Scottish Government figures show that 523 areas of croft land across Shetland have had their payment level reduced. The Scottish Government previously said that more money would come into Shetland agriculture under the new CAP. That is now questioned by local agricultural bodies. Shetland MSP Tavish Scott will highlight the importance of CAP payments at Question Time in the Scottish Parliament today.
Speaking in advance of the Holyrood session, Tavish Scott said, “These payments are an essential part of Shetland’s croft and farm cash flow.
“It is very worrying that the Scottish Government has spent £178 million on a computer that cannot make the payments before Christmas as they promised. But even more worrying is the reduction in payments that crofters had been expected to receive. I spoke to crofters in Lerwick yesterday about this. Nearly half of Shetland’s croft businesses have been forced to appeal their payment levels because the Scottish Government have reduced what crofters expected to receive.
“When the Scottish Government arranged a meeting in Shetland earlier this year, they assured everyone that reseeded land, apportionments and improved land would get the higher CAP payment. Ever since then, the Scottish Government have had inspectors studying croft land. 774 areas have had reduced payment levels confirmed. It is no wonder that local crofters are annoyed and disappointed. I will raise this with the Agriculture Minister today in Parliament.”