The exchange rate to be used for the 2013 Single Farm Payment Scheme has gone up.
The rate has been set at of €1 = £0.83605 by the European Central Bank, a rise of almost five per cent compared to last year.
The decision affects about 16,000 Scottish famers who receive their Single Farm Payments (SFP) in sterling. However, any benefit from the improved exchange rate likely to be neutralised by the reduction in payments, called financial discipline, that the Scottish Government is being forced to apply as part of a European budgetary control mechanism.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“The modest rise in the sterling / euro exchange rate, on its own, might have offered some welcome relief following difficult farming conditions over the past 12 months. However, any benefit is likely to be wiped out by the financial discipline imposed by the EU.
“We successfully lobbied to minimise the impact of financial discipline on Scottish farmers, and as a result Scotland is receiving about €4 million less in cuts than had originally been proposed.
“Support payments like SFP and the beef payments, which will be subject to the financial discipline, are a life-line for Scottish farmers who will want to know when they will receive their payments and how much they will receive.
“The Scottish Government has a strong track record in making early Single Farm Payments, with typically 90 per cent of farmers receiving funds by the end of December. We are striving to achieve a similar timescale for payments this year, but need early clarity from Europe on the level of financial discipline we will have to apply.
“We are working hard to ensure that farmers receive their payments as early as possible and farmers can help with this by responding promptly to any queries they may receive from Scottish Government officials.”