Scotland politics

Loans offered to farmers waiting for delayed payments

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Scottish farmers waiting for delayed payments are to be offered £50m worth of loans from the Scottish government.

Those still waiting for 2016 payments under the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) will receive letters by the end of the month inviting them to apply.

Scottish ministers announced the move following calls from the National Farmers' Union of Scotland (NFUS).

The NFUS want the troubled IT system to be bypassed.

The £178m system set up to deliver European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments has been beset by delays and increasing costs.

Ministers were forced to issue loans last year after some farmers and crofters warned they faced severe financial hardship.

'Number one priority'

Earlier this year, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing admitted there were still "significant risks" around the system.

Announcing the new loan scheme, he said: "Fixing the CAP payment issues remains my number one priority.

"And while our focus remains on getting 2016 payments made as soon as possible, the situation regarding LFASS is not good enough.

"I understand absolutely how important these LFASS payments are to farmers and crofters in our most remote and marginalised areas."

Mr Ewing also provided an update on progress to deliver remaining 2016 farm payments, with 90% of basic, greening and young farmers payments now made.

Additional 10% top-up payments are due by the end of June.

A range of other payment types are due to be made throughout the coming months, into the autumn.

"I want to reassure all farmers and crofters that officials continue to work flat out to a detailed plan to put 2016 payments on to a better footing," he said.

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