Scottish beef farmers set to receive headage payments

Scottish beef farmers are being reminded to check their bank accounts to ensure correct delivery of beef headage payments.

The Scottish government announced on 3 April that payments for the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme would start going into bank accounts imminently, with a final payment date of 30 June.

This year the scheme will pay £40m to about 7,000 beef producers, with farmers on the mainland receiving £98.92 and island farmers £144.27 for each eligible animal.

See also: How beef farmer is achieving a gross margin of £370 a cow

Animals have to be born on a Scottish holding, kept there for 30 days and be at least 75% beef bred.

Scottish farmers are the only beef producers in the UK to receive a headage payment, with the scheme intended to maintain beef herds at a level that sustains the commercial beef industry in Scotland.

According to the 2018 June census, there were 1.76 million cattle in Scotland, a 60-year low, with numbers in the beef sector having fallen by 1% on the previous year, and by 2% in the dairy sector.

Numbers peaked in 1974 at 2.68 million and have been in steady decline ever since, with recent falls blamed on the long winter of 2017-18, which exhausted feed supplies and may have led to cattle being slaughtered earlier than normal.

A recent report from WWF Scotland put the cost of extreme weather in 2018 to the overall Scottish farming sector at £166m.