CAP payments: Nicola Sturgeon to meet EU agriculture commissioner
Meeting follows report from Audit Scotland into IT problems which delayed payments to farmers
Nicola Sturgeon will meet the EU’s agriculture commissioner to discuss failures in the Scottish Government’s handling of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments.
The meeting follows a report from Audit Scotland into IT problems which delayed payments to farmers, with Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, warning CAP payments have “been beset with difficulties from the start”.
Gardner said: “These problems, and the way they have been dealt with by the Scottish Government, are a serious concern.”
With around 20 per cent of Scottish farmers still to receive their payment, the FM will meet Phil Hogan, the EU Commissioner responsible for payments, to discuss delays.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Hogan said: “Nobody wants to see uncertainty or instability at the moment in terms of farm income because markets are in a difficult situation at the moment, particularly in the dairy sector.
“We want to get money as quickly as we possibly can to farmers and we want to help Scotland to do so.”
Sturgeon has previously recognised the challenges posed by payment delays, with the Scottish Government making £200m of national funds available to those hit by delays.
The Scottish Government could face fines of up to £125m if payments are not made before the end of June.
Scottish Conservative MEP Dr Ian Duncan, who will also meet Hogan, warned that “the Scottish Government has taken its eye off the ball on this issue”.
Duncan said: “The Scottish Government's mishandling of the development of a system for making payments to farmers has been little short of a scandal, a fact laid bare by today's Audit Scotland report.
“It is clear not only that the costs are out of control, but that the scope of the system has had to be curtailed. In short it is costing much more and delivering much less. It is lose-lose for farmers, many of whom are still unclear how much they will be paid, and when the payments will be made.”
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