NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement that many new entrants to the sector are to receive a boost to cashflows this autumn and next spring as awards under the Scottish Government’s £2 million New Entrants Scheme commence.
More than 600 new entrants will receive payments of between £1,146 and £4,250 in two instalments. The first awards will reach bank accounts in the next few days and the second will be paid in early April 2014.
The fund was set up to provide £2 million over two years to support new entrants and deer farmers who are currently ineligible for Scotland’s main direct support scheme, the Single Farm Payment. The Union is adamant that the new CAP support arrangements, due to commence in 2015, present an opportunity to properly address this support gap.
NFU Scotland’s long-standing policy position is that from 2015, all new entrants and developers should have immediate access to full support under the proposed area-based system with an on-going national reserve available as a safety net from 2015 and in future years.
Mull farmer Iain Mackay, Chairman of NFU Scotland’s New Generation Group and a member of the Scottish Government’s New Entrants Panel said:
“Funds going into the farm accounts of new entrants, both now and next spring, will provide a welcome boost to fragile cashflows. It also provides a funding bridge that will help carry new generation businesses a little closer to full support in 2015.
“These payments are both welcome and needed, but the reality is that those new businesses receiving them will currently be operating with little or no direct support while farming alongside established businesses on full support levels. The new CAP arrangements cannot come quick enough for Scotland’s new entrants.
“We must ensure that at the start of the new CAP arrangements, we have found a simple and effective way to catch all new entrants and anomalies. There are new Scottish farmers that have been under supported for too long and I admire their ability to forge a career in farming under such conditions.
“The Union is solid in its view that new entrants must go on to the proposed area payment system from day one of the new CAP regime with the cushion of an ongoing national reserve for those who wish to enter our industry in the future.”
NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller added: “Clearly many new businesses have been forced to wait too long for a much delayed CAP reform. That delay has created heavy financial pressures, which has been recognised through the de minimus funding being provided by Scottish Government through this scheme.
“Payments under the New Entrants Scheme follow awards made under the Scottish Government’s Weather Aid assistance. Weather Aid payments have still to be concluded but were there to be an underspend, we would welcome consideration being given to topping up the New Entrants pot.
“Scottish Government must crack on, and allocate extra resources if necessary, to complete the Weather Aid fund allocations. That would help us identify if further funding might be available for the New Entrants budget in 2014.”