By FWi staff

EVERY beef farmer needs to calculate how to adapt to changes to the Suckler Cow Premium scheme.

Peter Cook, head of SACs rural business unit, told 200 farmers at the beef conference in Inverness that the EUs crisis management moves to ease the BSE-related collapse in beef demand in mainland Europe made planning even more important.

“The EU allows up to 20% of SCP claims at the moment to be made on heifers,” he said. “And from 2002 that will be extended to allow a maximum claim of up to 40%.”

Although those ceilings were voluntary, from 2003 a mandatory 5% of claims would have to be on heifers, while from 2004 that would rise to 15%.

“Every farmer needs to work out if they are going to stick with their existing quota and include heifers in that, or if is worthwhile going out and buying more quota.”

On some farms it will pay to buy more quota to cover heifer numbers, but every farm is different, says Mr Cook.

“Build in extensification payments to your calculations if they apply. And also make sure you know all the rules relating to heifer claims, such as the fact that you must keep them for six months after the claim is made.”

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