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NFUS Welcomes Signs of Livestock Numbers Stabilising

Producers Reminded of New Beef Scheme Arrangements for 2012

NFU Scotland has welcomed signs that the Scottish beef herd and sheep flock are showing signs of recovery in some parts of the country after several years of decline.

Scottish calf registration figures and a new report from SAC entitled “Response from the Hills” all suggest that, in some areas of Scotland, cow and sheep numbers have stabilised or are increasing.

Responding to falling livestock numbers in 2008, NFUS produced its own manifesto aimed at halting the decline and stopping depopulation, particularly of sheep, in some of Scotland’s more vulnerable areas.  Elements of that manifesto – continuation of the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme and a more targeted Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme - were adopted by the Scottish Government.

Although faced with significant hikes in input costs for feed, fuel and fertiliser in 2011, the returns from the marketplace for beef and sheep have also been stronger and this has had a positive impact on livestock numbers in some areas, according to SAC.

Given the importance of the beef sector to Scotland, a beef calf support scheme has been in place since 2005.  The Union is taking the opportunity to remind producers that a new Scottish Beef Scheme (SBS) will be introduced from 1 January 2012 to ensure a headage payment to the beef sector continues until new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regulations come into force.   This will mean that the existing Scottish Beef Calf Scheme will come to an end on 31 December 2011.

NFU Scotland’s Livestock Policy Manager Penny Johnston said:

“Scottish calf registration figures and SAC’s latest report on the hill farming sector all point to our stock numbers stabilising and, in some areas, recovering.  Significantly improved returns from the marketplace for beef and sheep have give some more confidence, albeit that confidence is tempered by rising input costs.

“NFU Scotland’s own manifesto to stimulate the beef and sheep sectors in our hills and uplands have been a factor in the modest recovery.  A more targeted LFASS linked to activity is now in place and the beef calf scheme has served an ongoing purpose in helping to encourage some producers to continue keeping beef cows.

“The new SBS will see payment rates revamped to assist smaller producers.  That will be particularly welcomed in vulnerable parts where smaller herd sizes are the norm.

“Margins in livestock production remain slim and it is clear from the SAC report that growing confidence in beef and sheep production is not shared across all parts of Scotland.  There are still many areas where loss of livestock is generating a catalogue of concerns.  Lower stock numbers or, in the worst case, land abandonment has huge implications for the environment and also has a massive impact on the local economy.

“We will continue to work with the supply chain to ensure fair marketplace returns.  However, the outcomes of the ongoing CAP reform talks and future support arrangements remain fundamental to livestock production in Scotland.  We will look at the potential for continued coupled support to the beef sector beyond 2014 and are already planning for the negotiations on a new rural development plan for Scotland, including LFA support.  All these elements will have great significance for the future confidence of our livestock producers across the whole of Scotland.” 

Notes to Editors

  • The new SAC report ‘Response from the Hills’, published today (Thursday, 15 October) suggests Scotland’s hill farming sector is responding to recent economic and policy signals, and that the retreat from the hills has stabilised with some evidence of localised increases in sheep and cattle numbers.
  • The present Scottish Beef Calf Scheme operates under the national envelope measures specified in Article 69 of EC Regulation 1782/2003.   The CAP Health Check of 2008 put a time limit on how long the existing Scottish Beef Calf Scheme (SBCS) could run.  
  • The Scottish Beef Scheme (SBS) will come into force from 1 January 2012. The only change to the 2012 SBS from the previous SBCS will be that the payment rate for the first 10 calves will be set at three times the rate of the other calves claimed instead of two as is the case at present.  The total pot of money for the fund is fixed at €29.8 million.  The payment rate per eligible calf is determined by the total number of animals claimed in Scotland within the scheme year, the exchange rate and the modulation rate.
  • Total Scottish calf registrations (beef and dairy) in 2008, 2009 and 2010 were 583,481, 552,592 and 572,320 respectively.   Scottish calf registrations in the first half of 2011 were 394,265 – that is almost 6000 more than in the January to June period in 2010.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 196/11


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