A plan to "stabilise and improve" the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payment process has been unveiled by Scotland's Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.
‘CAP Plan for Stabilisation’ will tackle the major causes of poor customer service, error and payment delay.
It comes as news that the amount of money Scottish farmers owe to banks has reached a record high, with the figure increasing up to 5% over the past year.
The figures come after problems with an IT system, which caused lengthy delays to the delivery of CAP payments in Scotland.
It is hoped the new plan will provide a clear payment schedule for schemes to help farmers plan ahead.
The plan will also see the launch of a loan scheme for eligible 2017 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) customers.
Announcing the plan during a statement to Parliament, Mr Ewing said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring that CAP entitlements are paid promptly and in full, and I am clear that we have not achieved that aim in recent times.
“So in order to deliver payments in full and on a more certain timetable, I am committing to tackling the major causes of poor customer service and experience. This plan, will target specific and sustainable improvements in our approach, business and IT processes, and importantly puts our customers first.
“The plan will produce a leaner service that better helps customers to understand what to expect and when, when applying for future funding, enabling them to plan ahead.”
However, Scottish Conservative rural affairs secretary Peter Chapman said the SNP's management of CAP payments has been "catastrophic".
“The SNP’s catastrophic management of CAP payments starved the rural community of hundreds of millions of pounds. Only now are we beginning to see the financial impact of that on businesses right across the country,” Mr Chapman said.
“The SNP must address these figures urgently and set out what it intends to do to help this vital sector recover. If it fails, the whole country will pay the price.”