Ru­ral loan pay­ments start in Scot­land

The Oban Times - - Farming -

PAY­MENTS from a ru­ral loan scheme de­signed to help vul­ner­a­ble farm­ers and crofters in Scot­land have started.

More than 7,400 pay­ments worth more than £45 mil­lion have been pro­cessed and will be paid this week. Fur­ther pay­ments are likely to fol­low as a to­tal of 11,000 let­ters have been is­sued of­fer­ing el­i­gi­ble busi­nesses the op­por­tu­nity to ben­e­fit from the 2016 Na­tional Less Favoured Ar­eas Sup­port Scheme (LFASS).

These loan pay­ments will be au­to­mat­i­cally de­ducted from EU pay­ments once LFASS 2016 ap­pli­ca­tions are pro­cessed. Fur­ther pay­ment runs will be made in the com­ing weeks.

Ru­ral econ­omy sec­re­tary Fergus Ewing said: ‘I un­der­stand how im­por­tant these pay­ments are for farm­ers, crofters and the wider ru­ral econ­omy so I’m de­lighted to see the money be­ing re­leased to those that re­quire this much-needed fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity.

‘This scheme will pump mil­lions into the ru­ral econ­omy at an im­por­tant time en­abling farm­ers and crofters to get on with pur­chases and in­vest­ments for the cru­cial sum­mer and au­tumn months.

‘Farm­ers and crofters who ac­cept the of­fer, but have missed the May 5 dead­line, will still re­ceive the full pay­ment to which they are en­ti­tled, and will re­ceive it as soon as pos­si­ble. I’d en­cour­age any­one yet to ap­ply for an LFASS loan to do so.’

NFU Scot­land vice pres­i­dent Martin Kennedy said: ‘This time of year is al­ways the most chal­leng­ing fi­nan­cially for beef and sheep pro­duc­ers in more dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas. There are lots of costs and bills to set­tle at a time when lit­tle or no rev­enue is com­ing in and that se­verely tests the cash flow of even the most pru­dent farmer or crofter. It’s the tim­ing of this LFASS cash in­jec­tion that makes it of real value, rather than the sums in­volved.

‘With an IT pay­ment sys­tem that is not yet fit for pur­pose, our call for this LFASS loan scheme was a timely and nec­es­sary in­ter­ven­tion. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber those not in this first round of pay­ments will not be over­looked.

‘Fur­ther loan scheme let­ters have been is­sued in re­cent weeks and we’ll be press­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to en­sure all those el­i­gi­ble and who have opted in get their loan amount as soon as pos­si­ble.’

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