Moray agriculture community still paying the price for CAP failure

Douglas Ross - Moray farmers are facing soaring debts.
Douglas Ross – Moray farmers are facing soaring debts.

MORAY FARMERS ARE amongst those faced with soaring debts in the wake of the failure of the Common Agricultural Payments (CAP) from the Scottish Government.

A report published yesterday has revealed that the collective debt faced by farmers throughout Scotland is at £2.2billion – an increase of £177million on last year.

The 9% increase comes after a failure to deliver on a new IT system resulted in farmers not receiving their vital European funding for several months after it was due – and for many the backlog has still not cleared.

The Scottish Government report concedes that “outstanding debt has risen above inflation, and the figure now tops the peak of the 1980s”. Farmers across the country have expressed their fury at the Scottish Government for depriving the rural economy of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Highlands and Moray Conservative MSP Douglas Ross said last night that minister had been warned a year in advance that the system could not cope – and that even banks were forced to set aside additional funding in loans to the farming community.

Mr Ross said: “There can be no question that farmers throughout Moray have been very badly let down by the SNP.

“Many have raised their concerns with me directly and I have raised these with Scottish Government ministers. At a time when farmers are facing considerable challenges, not least the volatile commodity prices, it is perhaps the time they needed the Scottish Government the most, but in reality SNP ministers have failed them.

“The rural economy in Moray has been starved of significant funds due to the mismanagement of vital CAP payments. It is not just farmers who are affected by this but many rural businesses who rely on the work from the agriculture sector.

“We are sadly now seeing record debt levels and this paints a very grim picture for the agricultural sector and a very bleak future ahead unless positive action is taken now before it is too late.

“The First Minister and the Scottish Government must take these matters seriously and act now before yet further irreparable damage is done to the industry.”

We are three-quarters of the way there – so please keep backing insideMoray’s bid to continue providing its Community News service in 2017 – visit our Crowdfunding Page for details.