Sir, – I read with some excitement your headline in last week's The Scottish Farmer, 'Help for the hills' – however, my excitement soon dwindled away as I read further into the article.

In my letter to you (printed October 19) I emphasised how important it was that in the spirit of things the money coming to help make up for years of low subsidy payments in Scotland, the convergence money, should remain in Pillar 1 of farm funding. I also referred to the Scottish Farm Business Survey as evidence as to why farms and therefore communities in areas of natural constraint need supporting or they will disappear forever.

Jim Walker very much agreed with me in his excellent article in the same edition. Along with Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing, they both recognise that a fair level of payment needs to go to those producing food in the hills and uplands of our farming community. Areas that have been starved of funding since the introduction of the Basic Payment scheme in 2015.

For the Cabinet Secretary to say he intends to cream off precisely a third of the pot of money over two years to cover up his own short comings is totally abhorrent and I find it difficult to hide my anger and frustration at his ill-conceived decision of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

On December 17, 2013, the EU published regulation No 1307/2013 outlining the introduction of a new scheme to replace our Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) and at the same time repealing existing legislation surrounding that scheme. To be fair, stakeholders were consulted straight away as to what a new scheme might look like, but at every turn they were met with: “Oh, but the computer can’t cope with those sort of changes to its system.”

We have known from an early stage that 'the computer' has never been fit for purpose as borne out by years of late payments and loans from Scottish Government, indeed the blasted inept computer caused me a large cashflow crisis this year when it was decided that I had across three years been overpaid and it was time for me to have a large chunk of my BPS payment deducted – it finally arrived eight months late in the middle of June this year.

This aside, as Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing oversees a department that has for the last four years consistently failed to deliver on its remit of delivering funding intended to subsidise the food we produce; has failed to put in place a system to replace LFASS; and now seizes the opportunity to hijack 33% of the convergence money coming to Scotland over the next two years to cover his department's incompetence.

Fergus Ewing, leave the convergence money in Pillar 1 where it belongs, look elsewhere and find funds for Pillar 2 for areas of natural constraint as required in regulation (EU) No 1307/2013.

If you are not able to deliver for the rural economy and the social fabric of our hills and uplands, and if you can’t get your house in order, then it is time you get out and leave it to someone who cares, someone who is able to do what you clearly don’t have the will or ability to achieve.

Hamish Waugh