By Andrew Shirley

LIVESTOCK headage payments are set to rise next year on the back of a slightly stronger Euro and an increase in subsidy rates.

The figures are set in Euros and then converted to Pounds using the average exchange rate between the two currencies during December.

If the current trend continues for the rest of this month, the Euro should be worth about 62.4p, roughly 1p more than last year, according to NFU figures.

This means, after taking into account modulation deductions (increased to 3% for 2002), young bulls under the Beef Special Premium Scheme will receive 17/head more than 2001.

Steers will qualify for about 9 extra and suckler cow payments will be boosted by up to 12.

But slaughter premiums have risen the most significantly – cattle over seven months will get over 50% more at 48.40/beast.

“These figures are still provisional,” stressed Derrick Wilkinson, chief economist at the NFU.

“But I dont think the exchange rate will change too much by the end of the year.

“For once, it looks like the rate has worked in our favour.”