Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland, has written an urgent letter to Farming Secretary Richard Lochhead demanding he rule out charging farmers a five percent interest rate on Government loans after the Scottish Government botched basic payments.
The news has sparked an outcry in the farming community, already reeling from the Scottish Government's failed handling of payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Ian also raises concerns that only 15 farmers have been approved for a loan.
Today National Farmers Union Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker decried the move, stating 'it is wrong that anyone should be penalised by what has been mismanagement of a flawed IT delivery system'.
In February, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was forced to announce that £200 million would be made available to farmers, in the form of loans, after the Scottish Government £180 million IT system was unable to process basic payments. This last-gap announcement came after farmers were forced to picket Holyrood after months of inaction from the Scottish Government, despite repeated warnings.
Commenting Ian said
'This is a further kick in teeth for Scotland's farmers and another glaring indication that the SNP have abandoned rural Scotland. First the SNP spend £200 million on a computer system that does not work, now they want to charge farmers 5 percent interest on Government loans made available in a desperate attempt to clear up the mess! Farmers never wanted loans. They want the monies that they were entitled to as far back as October. Mr Lochhead, or the First Minister, must immediately rule out these outrageous charges'