SNP's handling of CAP payments has lost it the trust of rural Scotland, says Ruth Davidson
Scottish Conservative leader uses FMQs to question Nicola Sturgeon on CAP payment delays
The SNP’s handling of Common Agricultural Policy payments has lost it the trust of rural Scotland, according to Ruth Davidson.
The Scottish Conservative leader used FMQs to question Nicola Sturgeon on IT problems which have seen CAP payments to farmers delayed.
The Scottish Government previously told farmers they would receive payments by the end of January, yet only a third of CAP payments have been administered.
The comments came after farmers’ union the NFU said Scottish farms and crofts were under "severe pressure" because of the delays.
Sturgeon said the Government was trying to ensure farmers received payments as quickly as possible.
Davidson said: “The First Minister has lost the trust of rural Scotland. She has overseen yet another Government IT fiasco, and farmers no longer have confidence in her rural affairs secretary.
“What reassurance, if any, can she give rural workers today that this failure is getting the fullest priority from the Scottish Government?”
The FM said: “It is true that processing payments has taken longer than we had intended due to the complexities of the new common agricultural policy system. We have been open with farmers and with industry about those complexities and what we are doing to address them. We started paying the first-instalment payments to farmers by the end of December.
She added: “By the end of January, almost 30 per cent had been paid the first instalment, with further payments initiated since then. As of last week, the total number of payments committed was 35 per cent. Area offices are operating seven days a week, and IT teams are working around the clock. Additional staff have been taken on in local offices”.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie warned payment delays are putting businesses at risk.
“The delay in CAP payments will of course hit farmers hardest but there is no part of our rural economy that will not be affected,” he said.
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