Time is running out for eligible farmers and crofters to apply to the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme, NFU Scotland has warned.
The deadline for applications is 31 December 2019 and union officials are urging farmers to apply for funding as soon as possible.
The scheme is open to specialist beef producers and has an annual budget of €38m (£32m) for beef calves born on the Scottish mainland. A further €6.6m (£6.6m) is available to applicants from the Scottish islands.
To qualify for support calves must be:
- At least 75% beef-bred
- Born on a Scottish holding
- Kept on the same holding for 30 days
This means that any animals born on or after 2 December 2019 will not be eligible until the next scheme year.
There is no limit to the number of claims eligible farmers can make by 31 December, NFUS said.
Payment rates per head will be determined once all claims are lodged, by dividing the two pots between the number of individual animals entered into the scheme.
That means an accurate payment rate cannot be calculated until all of the claims have been received.
However, as a guide, payments under the 2018 scheme went to about 7,000 beef producers, with mainland farmers receiving £98.92 and island farmers £144.27 for each eligible animal.
Full guidance for the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme is available on the Rural Payments Agency website.
NFU Scotland’s livestock committee chairman Jimmy Ireland said: “Given what a difficult year it has been for Scotland’s iconic beef sector, with finished prices tumbling by almost £200 per head, the beef calf scheme will be more important than ever to a beef farmer’s bottom line.
“This coupled support payment is a vital element in maintaining our iconic beef sector, which produces sustainable and local beef based on Scotland’s natural ability to grow grass.”