Concern raised over slow SAF submissions

The number of Scottish farmers and crofters who have filled out their Single Application Form (SAF) ahead of the window closing at midnight on Monday, May 17, is significantly lower than at this time last year.

Latest figures from the Scottish government suggest that as of Sunday, May 9, the number of SAFs submitted was 20% lower than at the same date in 2020.

The Scottish government also indicated that half of the SAF forms submitted are still in a ‘draft’ state so, although commenced, have yet to be completed.

The figures suggest that almost 4,000 SAFs (20%) have still to be started, raising the potential for a high number being submitted at the last minute which has the potential to put considerable pressure on the system.

Why complete an SAF?

Completion of a SAF is required to access important support schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening, and the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme.

It is vital for checks under the likes of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme and the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme.

All these schemes remain critical to the financial well-being of Scottish agriculture – injecting well over £500 million to the industry annually.

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said:

“With less than a week to go, the number of SAF forms still to be started is worrying given how important these support streams are to Scottish agriculture.

Concern has also been raised about the number of forms started but not completed and we urge those with forms in a draft state to go on and complete their application at the earliest opportunity and ensure that it is properly submitted.

“Farmers and crofters must prioritise these annual application forms in the next few days.

“The deadline of May 17, is fast approaching, and we urge all eligible applicants to concentrate on completing their submission now rather than at the last minute,” he added

“The SAF deadline is one of the most important dates in the Scottish farming calendar.

Last year, prompt completion of SAF allowed the Scottish government to open its loan scheme in August with most applicants receiving 95% of their BPS funds in September, several weeks ahead of schedule.

“We need farmers and crofters to crack on with applications this year if we are to secure a similar timetable,” Kennedy concluded.