4 April 1997

Suckler men need support

CONTINUED high levels of support are needed for suckled calf producers, says the Scottish NFU.

Not all have enjoyed increased income reported by the Kirkpatricks of Auchenbainzie whose suckler enterprise yielded an extra £12,000 in the past year (News, March 21). A FW survey of auction mart returns for last autumn shows calf prices were down on average about £90-£110, with the biggest fall for calves born in the autumn of 1995. The Kirkpatricks reported a fall of between £50 and £60.

Additional income to suckler herds from BSE support measures included:

&#8226 £53 a cow in two top up payments.

&#8226 £50 from a doubling of hill livestock payments.

&#8226 £11 extra provided new extensification limits could be met.

&#8226 about £6 a cow from a beef special premium top-up.

That gave a maximum increase in support payments of £120, which after covering for the fall in calf price left a slim margin. "That would be the case on most farms and the level of support was essential to keep these producers in business. They are vital to future supplies of top quality beef," said Jim Walker a member of the Scottish NFU hill farming committee.n