With little more than a fortnight to go before the gate closes on the Scottish beef efficiency scheme (BES), NFU Scotland is among those encouraging producers to sign up.
The carrot for producers getting involved in the scheme – which looks to improve the efficiency, sustainability and quality of the Scottish beef herd – is the funding equivalent of up to £32 per calf for the next three years.
Promoting it, NFU Scotland livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam said it could help beef producers who have seen a significant reduction in their direct support payments.
“In these cash-strapped times, very few businesses can afford to let the opportunity of an additional funding stream pass While this scheme, delivered through rural development funds, is not coupled to production, it does give farmers money based on the size of their herd.”
While some producers have complained about the lack of linkage to cattle numbers, Adam confirmed the European Commission had made it clear that BES could not be a coupled scheme and there was no option to bolster beef production by pushing further funds into the current beef calf scheme.
“It is worth reminding those who are swithering that for those who sign up and decide it is not for them, we have assurance from the Scottish Government that they can withdraw without penalty up until payment by Scottish Government in 2017. However, if you don’t sign up by 31 May, then the opportunity is lost.
“That said, the union will keep pushing for the scheme to be adapted to allow new entrants to join and for developing business to be taken better into account.”