Figures released this week indicate that just over 12,000 acceptance slips have been received by the Scottish Government so far out of a total of around 17,000 farmers and crofters who are eligible to draw down money from the £300 million pot put in place by rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing last month.
When he made the announcement, opposition MSPs speculated the loan money was to avoid government embarrassment over possible continued failings of the computer responsible for issuing support cash.
But Allan Bowie, president of NFU Scotland, encouraged union members to take up the offer, saying it would give “clarity and certainty to farm businesses”.
He also warned farmers and crofters to take up the loan offer as “there can be no guarantees when payments will arrive otherwise”, adding: “Given the issues with the IT system with 2015 payments, the loan money could provide some security to assist in running businesses for the months ahead.”
He stressed there was still return the slip in a pre-paid envelope in order to receive their payment in November. And he said if applicants have any queries, they should contact the RPID Information Line on 0300 300 2222 or email [email protected]
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that there are around about 60 unresolved cases from 2015 support schemes. Ewing said work was continuing to progress the remaining cases, some of which would probably prove to be ineligible.
Dalmally: For the second year in succession, the Blackface ram sale at Dalmally saw the top price soar up into six figures. The 2015 sale witnessed a new breed record of £160,000 for a ram lamb from Ian Hunter, Dalchirla. This year, a ram lamb from Willie Dunlop & sons, Quintin and William, from Elmscleugh, Innerwick, Dunbar was bid to £100,000 by a consortium of six breeders including Jimmy and Donald MacGregor, Dyke, Milton of Campsie; Archie and John MacGregor, Allanfauld, Kilsyth; Alastair and David Macarthur, Nunnerie, Elvanfoot; Allan Wight, Midlock, Crawford; Hugh and Alan Blackwood, Auldhouseburn and John Murray, Crossflatt, both Muirkirk. While all those are well known names in the breed, the sale was marked by a number of new buyers from all over the UK. They helped the shearling average to rise by almost £50 per head with 18 more sold. Overall, 525 shearling rams averaged £791.66 against 507 at £746 in 2015, while the 164 ram lambs sold levelled at £2033 compared to £2274 for the same number last year.
Stirling – Aberdeen Angus: The sale of the majority of the females from the famous Blelack Aberdeen Angus herd set the Stirling sales alight with a new record breed price of 35,000 guineas for a female contributing to a sale total of more than half a million pounds for the 90 cows, heifers and calves. Blelack owners Neil and Graeme Massie saw the record being broken when their seven-year-old cow, Blelack Lady Eraline came into the ring. The winning bid came from the Balavil estate near Kingussie with estate manager George Pirie buying on behalf of owners Hannah and Eric Heerema, who run Nyetimber, the largest producer of sparkling wine in the UK. Balavil bought another 25 Blelack animals before signing a cheque for over £180,000. Other top prices paid for Blelack cattle included 10,500gns for a seven-month-old male calf bought by Norbreck Genetics, Lancashire. R Gardiner, Newton Smiddy, Lyne of Skene bought one of the cows for 13,500gns while David Stubbs, Milton of Collieston, Ellon bought females at 10,000 gns.
Stirling – Simmental: The Green family, who run the Corskie herd of Simmentals, achieved 25,000 gns when the overall pre-sale show champion went to the pre-sale show judge Vikki Wood, Popes herd at Preston. The Greens also sold at 12,000 gns to C. Thomson, Wester Tulloch, Midmar. The Stronach family, Islavale, Keith, sold at 12,000 gns to A.D. Sutherland, Connachie, Elgin and another at 10,000 gns to A. and J. Craig, Craigton, Castle Douglas. The Macpherson family at Croy, sold twice at 11,000gn plus one at 10,500gn. Sale average 82 bulls sold with a clearance rate of 79% and an average of £5,393. This is back £576 on last year’s sale when 66 sold to average £5,969.
Stirling – Beef Shorthorn: Females dominated their male counterparts at the Stirling sale with an 11,000 gn bid being required to buy an 18 month old heifer from Douglas McMillan’s draft from his Coldrochie herd at Moneydie, Luncarty. She was bought by JR Graham and Partners, Greenshields, Biggar. Beef Shorthorn bulls sold to 6500gns.
Woodhall: At the Woodhall major reduction sale a top price of 16,000 gns was paid for five-year-old cow with her heifer calf. The buyer was Chris Traynor, Kilmore, Amagh.