DETAILS OF when Scotland's farmers and crofters can expect to receive their 2018 Common Agricultural Policy payments have been published.

Under the plans, Pillar 1 payments will commence in March and will largely be completed by the end of June. Pillar 2 payments will commence in April with the majority paid by the end of October.

Publishing the payment schedule, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “As we approach the commencement of the New Year, I want to provide farmers, crofters and other rural businesses with as much clarity and certainty as possible.

“I am therefore confirming that we intend to keep to the proposed CAP payment timetable published in our stabilisation plan, which outlines when farmers and crofters can expect to receive their CAP entitlements.

“By doing this, we are offering clarity and certainty over when payments will be made, demonstrating stability in our payment system, while enabling farmers and crofters the opportunity to plan ahead accordingly,” he insisted.

In detail, the Basic Payment Scheme, Greening and Young Farmer payments will commence March 2019, and should be 95% complete by the end of June. Both Voluntary Coupled Support and LFASS payments will start April 2019, and should also be 95% complete by the end of June.

Rural Priorities, AECS and FGS payments will commence in May 2019, with the intention of being 95% complete by the end of September. The Beef Efficiency Scheme will be at the tail, commencing July 2019, with a 95% payment target by the end of October 2019.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick commented: “A clear, accurate timetable for payments will be valued by all those who benefit from these schemes. The problems and high cost around securing feed, fodder and bedding in 2018 are well documented and this is going to be a very costly winter for many.

“The Scottish Government’s loan scheme for BPS and Greening, as requested by NFUS, injected more than £300 million into the rural economy in late autumn and early winter, helping to alleviate cash flow worries at that time.

“Confirmation that balance payments for Pillar 1 schemes will start in March, and payments for coupled support and LFASS starting a month later, will allow many businesses to now plan their cash flows on that basis," said Mr McCornick. "Many farmers are extremely reliant on these scheme payments and their timing so the payment calendar will allow farmers and crofters to carefully plan for the year ahead. Any delay in the timetable with an important scheme like LFASS, would merit Scottish Government considering another loan scheme as a contingency, as it has previously.

“Successive loan schemes have been invaluable in addressing cash flow concerns but the continued need for loan schemes demonstrates that confidence in the SGRPID system to deliver prompt payments in the future is still an issue. The move from loan schemes to direct payments and other schemes meeting set payment deadlines will build trust within the sector in the post-Brexit era and aid the organisation and planning of farm businesses in uncertain times.”