8 September 1995

Short advance for Scotland?

SCOTTISH livestock producers are unlikely to get the full 80% advance beef special premium, due to go out to their English and Welsh counterparts next month.

The advance payment was increased from 60% to 80% by farm ministers in June, taking the value to £68.66 a head on the first 90 male animals.

MAFF confirmed in late July it would make the higher payment from mid-October, two weeks earlier than normal. But a Scottish Office spokesman said this week that it was "still considering what, if any, extra advance could be made in Scotland".

The problem the Scots face is that last year the number of claims made overshot the regional ceiling by 22%, leading to a payment scaleback of the same amount. If this was repeated in 1995, but 80% of the money had already been paid out, the Scottish Office would find itself in the difficult position of having to recall money from producers.

A Scottish NFU spokesman said that it was still looking for a compromise with the Scottish Office, although it was not clear if a figure of, say, 70% would be compatible with EU law.

&#8226 Latest figures show that, by the end of July, about 207,300 claims had been made in Scotland against an annual limit of 244,000. This was 11% less than at the same time last year. But the trend this year is for claims to be made later and, as such, a significant overshoot is still likely.