The failure of the Scottish Government to organise payments to crofters is hitting Shetland agriculture hard says Shetland MSP Tavish Scott. He has been inundated with crofters yet to receive any Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) croft payments. A new CAP starts this year. The Scottish Government have spent £178 million on a payments computer. Most Shetland crofters have not received any CAP payment.
Tavish Scott said, "The new CAP is not working. Crofters have not been paid. Many will get nothing until March. The Scottish Government sent out a totally misleading letter to crofters on 17th December. They promised payments by Christmas and then in January. Crofters are now saying to me which year and what will I actually get? The local Agriculture Department staff are being put in an impossible situation by the incompetence of central government.
"This is an expensive time of year for crofters. Animals need extra feed as calving and lambing approaches. Feed bills must be paid. The tax man wants his cut at the end of January. There are the running costs of any business. So croft cash flow is always an issue through the early months of the year. That is why government has always paid out EU subsidies by Christmas. The Scottish Government promised they would. But that is not happening."
Tavish Scott has asked questions of the Scottish Government this week on behalf of Shetland crofters. He added, "I will continue to press the Agriculture Minister to sort out this situation. He needs to get a grip. The entire payment system is creaking despite the £178 million computer Richard Lochhead bought. The Government need to tell crofters what they are going to receive and when.
"I am also encouraging any crofters to appeal the downgrading of their land which could cost individual crofts thousands of pounds and take millions out of Shetland agriculture. I know of crofts where their silage ground has been downgraded to a lower payment region. This is intolerable. So local crofters must appeal these payment region decisions before it is too late."