Deadline looms for £40m Scottish suckler beef scheme

Scottish beef producers have just over a fortnight left to submit their applications for the Scottish Suckler Beef Scheme.

NFU Scotland has urged all eligible beef farmers to submit their applications to Scottish government now to ensure their share of the 2023 scheme, which is worth £40m.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 31 December.

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Any farmer or crofter producing beef calves can claim for any calf born between 1 January and 2 December 2023, provided the calves contain at least 75% beef genetics and have been kept on the holding of birth for at least 30 days.

Payment rates are determined by the number of eligible calves claimed and these are expected to be announced in early 2024.

Last year, the rates were £101.42 for mainland calves and £144.47 for island calves.

Meanwhile, NFUS says Scottish government has given assurances that the scheme will feature in future farm support arrangements in Scotland and that new conditions will be introduced on eligibility from 2025 for the 2026 scheme.

The conditionality will be based on calving interval and this is still to be finalised.

‘Cornerstone’ of red meat sector

NFUS president Martin Kennedy said the iconic Scottish beef brand continues to be the cornerstone of the country’s red meat sector, contributing 24% to the total Scottish agricultural output.

“It is hugely important that beef farmers do not miss the 31 December deadline and get their applications in on time,” said Mr Kennedy.

“It’s also really important we have retained this beef calf support scheme. It’s a really important transfer fund for the beef sector. Given the challenges the sector has had over the past few years, without it, we would be in a different position now.

“There is a degree of optimism, with people talking about prices being good just now. But actually prices are where they need to be.”