Scottish stakeholders call on Scottish Government to bring forward payment schedule to recognise cash flow concerns

Press Release

Key organisations committed to the viability of Scottish agriculture and all that it underpins have written to the Scottish Government to express concerns over the impact that the unprecedented cost inflation is having, calling on it to bring forward crucial support payments to ease growing cash flow concerns.

The letter to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon was signed by 11 organisations including NFU Scotland, AIC Scotland, National Sheep Association Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, Scottish Beef Association, Dairy UK, SQC, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association and Scottish Pig Producers. It reads:

We write on behalf of key organisations committed to the viability of Scottish agriculture and all that it underpins in Scotland’s interests.

The co-signatories to this letter are all deeply concerned about the immediate challenges the farming and crofting industry is currently facing and the implications these will have not only for primary producers but also many upstream and downstream businesses that rely on agriculture as their customers and their suppliers.

We know that you are fully aware of the unprecedented input cost inflation the industry is enduring and its potential implications.  That is now causing many to reassess their production choices to the extent that the critical mass of Scotland’s agri-food sector is under real threat.

While there is no quick fix to the current crisis, there are mitigating actions that can be taken in addition to the steps the Scottish Government has already taken.

Right now, the key to safeguarding the food supply chain in Scotland, and all the allied businesses and associated jobs it underpins, is cash flow. Therefore, we are collectively calling on the Scottish Government to utilise all options at its disposal to pay the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening as soon as it possibly can.  Such a step could help to build confidence across the industry.  

Measures such as this, which help to reduce risk and build confidence, are needed to ensure that there is no scaling back of production in Scotland’s agricultural sectors.

We appreciate that the Scottish Government has already indicated that for 2022 it intends to make ‘advanced’ BPS and Greening payments from mid-October – using the scope of the Agriculture (EU Retained Law and Data) (Scotland) Act 2020.

However, that intention was set out before the current input cost crisis fully took grip and the advanced payments schedule proposed would, in fact, see farmers and crofters receive support payments later than under previous years’ ‘loan’ scheme.

The precedent of Scotland’s previous BPS and Greening loan schemes has demonstrated that Scottish Government intervention can and does make a fundamental difference to the viability of farms and crofts in difficult times.

Moreover, our collective request to bring forward payments as soon as possible is not a call for additional funding. This is about the accelerated delivery of already committed resources in order that input cost rises can be endured and to help ensure the continuity of agricultural production at economically sustainable levels.

The timing of payments to ensure cash flow within farming and crofting businesses is vital to the continuity of agricultural activity and food production.  

Given the urgency of the situation, we would welcome a quick response. We are ready to engage with your officials to consider what options are available and how best they might be used to help address the current concerns of so many farmers and crofters and all those who rely on them.