Only one in five dairy farmers in Scotland has so far applied for cash sums of up to £4,000 from an EU scheme aimed at counteracting low milk prices last year.
In total some £2.4 million is available to Scotland’s 900 or so dairy farmers but this money will revert to Europe if applications are not received by the Scottish Government by 1 May.
NFU Scotland is urging those who had not applied for the cash so far to do so, its milk policy manager George Jamieson saying Scottish dairy farmers could not afford to miss out on the financial support available: “I urge them to crack on with applying before 1 May.”
He added: “Given the fragile state of our dairy sector, funding of between £1,000 and £4,000 is available. With feed and fertiliser prices rising, and milk prices levelling off, this is money that will be welcome to all.”
In 2016, the EU Commission recognised the crisis in the sector and set aside £350m to be shared out between member states to contribute to dairy market stabilisation. The UK was allocated £25m, with Scotland receiving £2.4m.
Under the terms of the Scottish scheme, the highest payment rate, £4,000, is available to farmers on Bute, Arran, Mull, and the Kintyre peninsula to protect the supply base for Campbeltown creamery. Farmers who were paid a milk price of less than 20p per litre during 2016 can receive £3,250; farmers who were receiving under 25p could get £2,000 each, while those farmers who received 25p per litre or more can receive £1,000.
The scheme is linked to improving efficiency, so producers must commit to simple production profiling and milk recording to qualify.