Suckler quota loophole ends
A LOOPHOLE that allows dairy farmers to secure free suckler cow quota if they decide to give up milking cows, is about to be closed.
There has been growing disquiet in Scotland that, with the milk price falling, many dairy farmers were leasing out their milk quota and then applying to the national reserve under category six – the lowest priority – for beef quota. The same farmers were barred from any beef subsidies as long as they were milking dairy cows.
There has been no scale-back on applications for category six in both the Highlands and Islands and less favoured areas, which together cover 90% of Scotland, so full allocations were available. Meanwhile, existing beef producers who want to expand have to pay for additional quota.
But, according to Scottish NFU president, Jim Walker, the implementation of the Agenda 2000 reforms will close the loophole.
The reforms will fix suckler cow quota a 1997 levels plus 3%. "In Scotland, that would mean a scale-back for many herds which have been expanding. We are asking government to use up all the national reserve available in the three areas of Scotland so that scale back can be minimised.
"The result will be no pool of quota left for dairy farmers switching to beef. They will have to buy quota on the open market. The siphon on quota transfers would continue and that would provide enough for deserving cases like genuine new entrants," Mr Walker said. *