Scottish farmers urged to apply for beef calf scheme

Scottish farmers are being reminded that they only have until the end of the month to apply to the 2005 Scottish Beef Calf Scheme. 


NFU Scotland has warned that to date only around half the expected number of animals have been claimed.


The scheme was established as part of the Common Agricultural Policy reform package for Scotland. 


The beef national envelope top-slices 10%of farmers’ beef payments under the new Single Farm Payment. 


That established an £18 million scheme that pays a lump sum for every calf claimed that meets the following criteria:


·        At least 75 per cent beef bred

·        At least 30 days old. 

·        Born on a Scottish holding on or after 2 December 2004 and kept there for a minimum of 30 days.


To date, only 273,000 cattle have been claimed under the scheme.


The Scottish Executive had expected the figure to be around 500,000 which would have resulted in a forecast payment of £70 for the first ten calves claimed by a farmer and £35 for every one thereafter. 


However, because of the low take-up, at the current level of claims, payments could actually be around double those rates. 


The £18 million budget must be spent this year, irrespective of the number of cattle claimed.


NFUS said it was opposed to the introduction of the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme, but as all beef producers will lose 10% of the beef element of their SFP it should be claimed.


There is no limit on the number of claims by any individual. Payments are expected to be issued in February 2006.


NFUS policy director Scott Walker said: “We can only speculate as to the reasons for the low take-up. 


“A delay in getting Parliamentary approval which resulted in farmers being advised not to submit claims at the start of the year, together with the general negativity amongst farmers over the benefits of the scheme, have probably been the two most significant reasons.


“However, the fact is, beef producers are losing a significant chunk of their Single Farm Payment to fund this scheme, so they should seriously consider submitting an application.”