Farm­ers strug­gle with debt

Calls for gov­ern­ment to help ru­ral busi­nesses

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Ian Bunting

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

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