By Emma Penny

WITH less than two months to go before the new cattle slaughter premium kicks off, there are still no scheme rules or literature available from MAFF, which could lead to widespread confusion, warns the NFU.

Dairy producers in particular could be at risk of misunderstanding the system, due to start on 1 January, warns NFU livestock policy advisor Carol Lloyd.

“The slaughter premium is based on IACS rules, with which many dairy producers will be unfamiliar.

“The problem is that we cant pre-empt the rules, so no-one knows what their obligations are under the scheme. We know some details, but they may be subject to change.”

Cattle must be retained on-farm for two months before premium, worth about £17/head, can be claimed.

Payment will be in two instalments – 60% paid between August and, at the latest, October, with the remaining 40% paid before the end of June the following year.

This will allow for potential scale-backs if a UK ceiling, probably based on 1995 numbers, is breached.

Slaughter premium can be claimed on prime finished cattle.

But there are concerns if live markets are involved, as slaughter premium can only be claimed by the vendor when the animal has been killed within one month of being sold.

It can also be claimed on cattle over 30 months old, but producers must remember the two-month retention period, says Ms Lloyd.

Producers can also claim slaughter premium on veal calves. Calves up to three months old must have been retained on-farm for one month; those from three to seven months old for two.

However, the scheme is only available for animals going direct for slaughter at an abattoir.

In all cases, cattle must be fit for human consumption, says Ms Lloyd. Producers can submit a maximum of 12 claims a year, but there is no ceiling for numbers on individual claims.