A National Basic Payment Support Scheme providing vital financial support to Scottish farmers in advance of Brexit has been launched by the SNP Government.
Under the new scheme, loans will be offered to eligible farmers for up to 95% of their Basic Payment Scheme 2019 payments, an increase of 5% on previous years.
The Basic Payment Scheme acts as a safety net for farmers and crofters who actively farm their land, by supplementing their main business income.
Support under the Basic Payment Scheme is available to farmers who are allocated payment entitlements. They can apply for entitlements based on the land they farm and the activity they undertake.
Loan payments are expected to be made to eligible farmers from early October. A similar scheme in 2018 delivered payments worth more than a quarter of a billion Pounds to over 13,500 farmers following months of adverse weather.
Announcing the scheme, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said:
“Farmers are the backbone of Scotland’s rural economy and with the UK edging ever closer to leaving the EU without a deal, it is absolutely essential that we provide as much support and certainty as we can.
“That is why the SNP Government will shortly be issuing loan offers, providing a degree of financial certainty during these tumultuous times. Recognising the potential catastrophic consequences of a ‘No deal’ on our agricultural sector, I’m also confirming that loans will be offered at the increased rate of 95%, delivering more money to farmers through this mechanism than ever before.
“I believe there has never been a more important time for rural businesses to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are as prepared as possible for whatever Brexit outcome may be delivered. As such, I would encourage all eligible farmers, crofters and land managers to accept this offer to enable us to get your payment out to you as soon as possible.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“While the exact magnitude Brexit on farming and other sectors of the Scottish economy is difficult to predict, we know its impact will be devastating.
“The SNP Government is well aware that farmers are key to the economic and social wellbeing of Scotland’s rural and island communities and will ensure that, in the face of Brexit and all the difficulties that come with it, farm and rural businesses receive their current payment entitlements.
“It’s bad enough that the UK Tory Government still owes Scottish farmers £160 million of the £190 million the EU paid them specifically to pass on to Scotland and they don’t seem to have any intention of correcting this; the SNP Government in Scotland is trying to help, not harm farmers across North Ayrshire and Scotland.”
The National Basic Payment Support Scheme 2019 will operate on an opt-in basis and offset against those payments.
Loan letters will be issued in early September with payments beginning in early October.