IMPROVEMENTS WELCOMED TO FARM SCHEME
Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has urged Argyll & Bute farmers and crofters to beat the last minute rush and apply for farm payments using the Single Application Form (SAF) as the Scottish Government announced improvements to the operation of the new Rural Payments and Services website.
The complexity of the new Common Agricultural policy (CAP) has resulted in implementation challenges right across the UK and Europe – and as a consequence Scotland, along with 15 other EU countries, have extended the deadline for farmers and crofters to submit their SAF until the 15 June.
Mr Russell said:
“Local farmers have just over one month left to complete their SAF forms. We already know this task has been made more difficult by the complexity of the new policy, so people should not leave it till the last minute to apply.
“It is good news that the Scottish Government has taken action so that the performance of the Rural Payments and Services system has improved – particularly the speed at which it runs. I have been making representations on behalf of local farmers for some time on this issue as have my MSP colleagues and it is good that Richard Lochhead has listened and ensured that changes were made.
“Scotland, along with 15 other EU countries, have extended the deadline for farmers and crofters to submit their SAF until the 15 June – but, if possible, they should beat the last minute rush and apply now.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“This is the first year of the new payment system for the more complex Common Agricultural Policy and, although delivery has been challenging, we are now seeing real improvements to the system’s operation.
“While the new system is different from the previous one that farmers will be familiar with, it offers significant benefits to farmers, ensuring they get paid what they are due and is designed to minimise errors and penalties.
“We are aware that some farmers and agents have experienced issues and we have a dedicated team working to ensure all problems are sorted as quickly and we have extended the deadline for the submission of applications by one month to 15 June 2015 to allow for more time to get used to the system and rules of the new Common Agricultural Policy Programme. In addition, we recognise that that online applications do not suit everyone and paper applications have always been welcome.”