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Single Farm Payments start

SINGLE FARM Payments should begin to arrive in Scottish farmers' bank accounts today, Monday, December 3 – the first day payments are permitted by European regulations.

According to the Scottish government, around 14,200 producers will receive their SFP today – an increase of around 4% on 2011's payment round – injecting approximately £303 million into the rural economy.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Scottish farmers have had a challenging time this summer, coping with this year's record rainfall and sometimes difficult harvest. That is why, this year more than ever, this Government has done all it can to ensure farmers receive their SFP as promptly as possible. I'd like to thank the many staff who have worked hard to ensure so many payments can be made today.

"In the current economic climate these support payments are vital for Scottish farmers, making the difference between profit and loss for many farm businesses. So this year's payments should be seen as clear evidence that this government is supporting Scotland's farmers in tough economic times.

"Our priority now will be to work with producers to resolve any problems and pay remaining claims as quickly as possible. I would urge all concerned to ensure that they respond promptly to any requests that will help us to settle their claims," said Mr Lochhead.

"Scottish farmers can also get early access to payment information – up to a week before it goes into their bank – by registering online. Signing up for Rural Payments Online also allows claimants to apply online, with 24 hour access, instant receipts and dedicated helpdesk support. Even if you didn't submit your application online, it's not too late to benefit."

The producers benefitting from this week's payments will already have successfully passed the Scottish Government's eligibility checks, meeting the European Commission conditions attached to payments. Farmers and crofters who have outstanding inspections or other eligibility issues cannot be paid until these have been resolved.

NFU Scotland welcomed the announcement of this first wave of payments, and noted that it maintained the SNP government's good record in the prompt delivery of the SFP.

But given the exceptionally bad weather that farmers have faced this year, and the cash flow problems that have arisen, the Union urged the Scottish Government to make every effort in ensuring that every claimant be paid by the end of this month.

NFUS president, Nigel Miller said: "Farming systems and financial resources have been pushed to near breaking point by the extreme weather endured on many farms this year. In our recent wet weather survey, many respondents highlighted worries over cash flow and expenditure, and prompt delivery of the SFP is very welcome but also badly needed.

"This payment run will bolster 14,200 farm businesses into the New Year but we would want to see all eligible claimants receive a similar boost before the year is out.

"Getting so many payments out the door in the first week is commendable and we have asked the Scottish Government to make every effort to complete its full payment run by the end of December.

"Given the exceptional year, we think it must be appropriate that resources are directed towards delivering on this and that all the SFP monies flow in December."

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