Farmers struggle with debt
Calls for government to help rural businesses
MSP Marg a r e t Mitchell has urged the Scottish government to help the farming sector “recover” after figures revealed that businesses are turning to debt following “the SNP’s failure to process European payments on time”.
Banks loaned an extra £ 100million to farmers across Scotland last year, as many struggled to cope with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments crisis.
Official s t at i s t i c s released last week showed farm debt went up by five per cent from the previous year, a cash-terms rise of £113m.
It means debt levels of £ 2.32 billion are now at their highest since records began in 1972, the Survey of Bank Advances to Scottish Agriculture confirmed.
This comes as the sector again faces challenges after the Scottish government failed to process European payments on time.
Ms Mitchell said: “Farmers in Lanarkshire and across the country are struggling because of the SNP government’s failure to make CAP payments on time.
“Their catastrophic handling of the payments ha s s t a r ved rura l businesses of hundreds of millions of pounds.
“It has forced many to turn to debt and these figures show the financial state of our farming businesses has never been worse.
“Any reasonable person would think ministers would step-in to help this vital sector, but in recent weeks we learned they will instead slash support for farming communities by cutting tens of millions of pounds from existing schemes.
“The SNP mus t recognise its failures and urgently address these latest figures.
“If farming fails then every community will pay the price, so we need ministers to take real action and help this sector recover.”
Concerned Ms Mitchell claims many farmers have been forced to turn to debt