Scottish farmers are being reminded that they only have until the end of the month to apply to the 2005 Scottish Beef Calf Scheme.
NFU Scotland has warned that only about half the expected number of animals have been claimed.
The scheme was established as part of the CAP reform package for Scotland.
The beef national envelope deducted 10% of farmers’ beef payments under the new Single Farm Payment.
The money funded an 18m scheme that pays a lump sum for every calf claimed that meets the following criteria:
At least 75% beef bred At least 30 days old Born on a Scottish holding on or after 2 December 2004 and kept there for a minimum of 30 days.
Only 273,000 cattle have been claimed under the scheme.
The Scottish Executive had expected the figure to be about 500,000, which would have resulted in a forecast payment of 70 for the first 10 calves claimed by a farmer and 35 for every one thereafter.
But because of the low take-up, at the current level of claims, payments could actually be about double those rates.
The 18m budget must be spent this year, irrespective of the number of cattle claimed.
NFUS said it was opposed to the introduction of the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme, but, as all beef producers will lose 10% of the beef element of their SFP, it should be claimed.
There is no limit on the number of claims by any individual. Payments are expected to be issued in February 2006.
NFUS policy director Scott Walker said: “We can only speculate as to the reasons for the low take-up.
“A delay in getting parliamentary approval which resulted in farmers being advised not to submit claims at the start of the year, together with the general negativity among farmers over the benefits of the scheme, have probably been the two most significant reasons.
“However, the fact is, beef producers are losing a significant chunk of their single farm payment to fund this scheme, so they should seriously consider submitting an application.”