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Hill Farmers and Crofters Reminded of Upland Sheep Scheme Deadline

Warning on ewe hogg rates as scheme closes on Monday

NFU Scotland is reminding hill farmers and crofters that the deadline for applications to the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) is Monday, 17 October.

The scheme, now entering its second year, is designed to assist active hill farmers and crofters through a payment coupled to the number of ewe hoggs they keep as breeding replacements for their flocks.  But the Union is warning applicants that Scottish Government’s decision not to alter scheme rules means payments are likely to again fall short of predicted rates, exposing those most reliant on SUSSS.

The scheme has a fixed budget of €8 million per annum, and the payment rate will vary depending on the total number of eligible animals claimed in the scheme year.

Payment rates under year one of SUSSS were equivalent to €78 per eligible ewe hogg – well below the Scottish Government’s original €100 estimate - due to significantly more animals being claimed than were expected.

The Union provided Scottish Government with a list of suggested improvements to the scheme.  These included a wider application period, more appropriate retention periods and linking the total number of ewe hoggs a producer can claim to a percentage of the breeding ewes they keep.  The Union believes that would avoid over claiming.  None of the suggested improvements have been taken on board.

That means SUSSS rules for its second year remain unchanged and the likelihood is that Scottish Government’s estimate of the likely rate per ewe hogg, when eventually published, will be below the payment rate seen in year one.

Less Favoured Areas Committee Chairman Martin Kennedy, who farms in Highland Perthshire, commented: “NFUS fought hard for a coupled sheep payment to be part of the new CAP schemes to ensure that Scotland’s limited budget could be targeted in the best way possible at active farmers and crofters.

“The rate of payment in year one was disappointing compared to what applicants had been expecting, and we believed positive tweaks could easily have been made by Scottish Government for year two that would have fine-tuned the system.

“These tweaks would not only have made these precious funds more applicant friendly but also be far better targeted at those active hill sheep producers who are most reliant on the support. With no changes to the scheme, Scottish Government must be open with industry on what the likely rates will be in year two, so applicants can plan and budget.

“That said, I would still urge crofters and hill farmers eligible for SUSSS to press ahead with their application before Monday (17 October).  The funds they may receive will be a vital element of the total amount of support they will get under the CAP schemes.  SUSSS, along with Basic Payment Scheme, greening, Less Favoured Areas support and beef calf scheme payments, will assist the viability of their farm or croft.”

Notes for Editors

  • The deadline for applications to the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme is Monday 17 November (and not 16 November as previously notified)
  • Scottish Government is urging SUSSS applicants to make online applications via the Rural Payments and Services website.  Online applications allow applicants to withdraw any animals from the scheme that they no longer wish to claim, or that die during the retention period, more easily.
  • SUSSS applicants can submit paper-based applications.  Forms are available through SGRPID Area Offices.  These must be completed and returned within the SUSSS application period (Monday 17 October) in order to apply.
  • SUSSS scheme guidance can be found on the Rural Payments and Services website at: https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/all-schemes/scottish-upland-sheep-support-scheme/


Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 234/16


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