Beef Efficiency Scheme Clarity and Joint Drive for Uptake After Industry Meeting

NFU Scotland and other beef sector stakeholders are looking to drive uptake of the new Scottish Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES) before the 31 May deadline.

Representatives of the Union, Scottish Beef Association, Scottish Government, SAMW, SRUC, SAOS, QMS and Beef 2020 met in Edinburgh on Monday and agreed to build on the growing support for the scheme, worth an estimated £45 million over three years to ensure that it is a success for the whole of the Scottish industry.

By getting involved in the scheme, which looks to improve the efficiency, sustainability and quality of the Scottish beef herd, producers will be eligible for funding equivalent to £32 per calf for three years.

The BES system will be hosted on: and interested farmers need to complete an application on ScotEID before 31 May.

NFU Scotland Livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam said: “The Union has worked hard to gain clarity on some of the outstanding concerns. The European Commission have been quite clear that BES cannot be a coupled scheme and there is no option to bolster beef production by pushing further funds into our current beef calf scheme.

“Whilst this scheme, delivered through rural development funds, is not coupled to production it does give farmers money based on the size of their herd in 2015 and can assist those beef producers seeing a significant reduction in their direct payments.

“There are many merits to the aims of the scheme and much of what farmers are asked to do will benefit their business. In these difficult times, most producers are looking very hard at the bottom line and through BES, a typical herd of 75 cows will get access to an estimated £7,000 thanks to the scheme. In these cash strapped times, very few businesses can afford to let the opportunity of an additional funding stream pass.

“Although payment is proposed for the first three years of the scheme, the Union will keep pushing for farmers to be paid for the full 5-year term.

“It is worth reminding those who are swithering that for those who sign up to BES and ultimately decide it is not for them, we have assurance from 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 for established beef herd 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. They are the future of the Scottish industry and the ones who will deliver the benefits and efficiencies of the Scheme in the long term.”

Scott Henderson of the Scottish Beef Association added: “The SBA is 100% behind the aims of the BES.  It firstly gives additional subsidy support equivalent to £32 per calf per year for at least the next 3 years. The information that farmers need to provide is no more than most producers record anyway.

“Applicants also get the services of a specialist consultant, free of charge, to help identify your own weaknesses.

“Although a five-year scheme, and funding is only guaranteed for the first three, the efficiency gains generated by management changes throughout its course should deliver benefits back to the bottom line of the business long before the money runs out.  

“For every extra calf that you sell, it will add directly to your profit with, in many cases, no extra costs and the same can be said for every kilo extra of liveweight gain your cattle achieve.”    

Notes to Editors

  • Scottish Government’s Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES) is looking to:
    • improve efficiency, sustainability and quality of the beef herd
    • helping increase the genetic value
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • At the meeting, stakeholders also secured some further clarity on the scheme.
    • Advisory services. In year one, farmers will need to watch the online video. For the rest of the scheme, farmers need to attend three local group meetings (1-2 hours) and a single one on one meeting.
    • Management changes. Farmers will need to identify and commence three management changes (with the assistance of the advisory service). The advisory services will assist the farmer in monitoring progress on the management changes that have been identified.  The results of the management changes will not be audited.
    • Herd size. Farmers will only face a BES penalty if they reduce their herd to a level they cannot provide enough calves for tissue tagging. Farmers need to tissue tag 20% of their 2015 reference population. For example, if you had 47 reference animals in 2015 then you must have at least nine eligible calves in 2016.
    • Weighing. Weighing needs to be complete between 120-400 days (still subject to EC approval). Batch weights at markets are permitted, with calves of similar size. The individual calf weights must be recorded on the Beef Efficiency Scheme system
    • Tissue tags. Tissues tags will be sent to the farmer as close as possible to weaning time.  In year one it will be at the earliest beginning of October and at the latest the beginning of November.  You will be told in September what calves have been selected. If you are selling these calves before the tags are available, you can tag at your own cost.
    • Carbon Audit. The carbon audit will require information which is part of your normal day to day business such as fuel, fertiliser, feed and electricity. In Year One you will receive advice through the scheme’s advisory services on how to complete the audit. Farmers will not be penalised if they make a mistake in the audit. A breach will only arise if you do not complete the audit.
    • Reference year. Only New Entrants and Young Farmers can use 2016 as their reference year
    • Reference animal’s issues. If farmers have any questions with the information on ScotEID they should call the ‘Entitlements and Payments Helpline’ on the 0300 300 2222
    • Still uncertain whether to join the scheme? There will be no penalty for farmers who withdraw from BES after signing up within the first year and before you receive your first payment (in May 2017.)
  • Further information on the scheme available at:


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 120/16

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