New deadline for claiming Scottish Suckler Beef Scheme cash

Scottish beef farmers are being given more time to apply for the Scottish Suckler Beef Scheme, to ensure they are in with a chance of receiving payments that last year were worth more than £101 for mainland calves and £144 for island calves.

The application window normally closes on 31 December.

But the Scottish government has announced it is closing its online application facility from 5pm on Thursday 21 December until 4 January 2024, for essential maintenance.

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To give producers more time to apply for a scheme that is worth about £40m to calf producers, the portal will reopen for another 10 days, from 4 January to 14 January 2024.

To be eligible, calves must have been born between 5 December 2022 and 2 December 2023, contain at least 75% beef genetics, and have been on the holding of birth for more than 30 days.

NFU Scotland’s livestock chairman Hugh Fraser said such late notice of the closure will have disrupted many people’s plans for submitting their applications.

“But I urge them to reschedule and get the claims in between 4 and 14 January next year,” he said.

“The value of this scheme to Scotland’s iconic red meat sector cannot be underestimated as it ensures producers around the country are encouraged to keep producing beef calves, to underpin the production of quality Scotch Beef.”

Scotch Beef was “the cornerstone” of the red meat sector, he added, contributing 24% to the total Scottish agricultural output.