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Union Disappointment at EU Decision on Beef Calf Scheme

Smaller producers hit as front-loading ruled out

The European Union has ruled out Scotland front-loading payments made under the new Beef Calf Scheme that would have supported smaller beef producers, crofters and new entrants.

The Union successfully argued for additional voluntary coupled support to be made available to the beef sector under the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); with separate schemes for producers on the mainland and those in the islands.  Within those schemes, NFUS supported payments being front-loaded to the first 10 calves, assisting new or smaller beef farmers.

The Scottish Government CAP announcement in the summer suggested that payments would be front loaded with the first 10 calves receiving double the payment rate with the single rate paid on subsequent calves.

However, European rules around the new CAP stipulate that coupled schemes can only deliver a single payment rate.  As a result, Scotland will operate two beef schemes.  It is estimated that, depending on level of claims, the mainland scheme will pay a flat rate of around €100 per calf while calves that qualify under the islands scheme will receive a flat rate of approximately €160 per calf.

Having been notified by the Scottish Government on Europe’s decision, the Union has already met European Commission (EC) officials in Brussels to discuss the issue.  It may be that any mid-term review of the new CAP will present an opportunity to revisit rules around such beef schemes.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“We successfully campaigned for additional voluntary support for our iconic beef sector and for that support scheme to recognise the additional costs incurred by island producers. That approach has always included the call for payments to be front loaded – both in the mainland and the island schemes - to the benefit of smaller producers, whether they be crofters, farmers with small beef herds or new entrants

“The Scottish Government was supportive of such an approach.  We were successful in securing additional support for the mainland and island schemes and won the argument on the need for front-loading, only for Scotland’s wishes to be thwarted by EC rules.

“Having met EC officials, it is clear coupled schemes under the new regulation can only deliver a single payment rate.  However, by channelling support into a small producers scheme and a standard scheme on both the mainland and the islands, enhanced payments can be made on the first 10 calves.  The total budget would be unaffected but we recognise that the creation of four rather than two support schemes would add complexity and multiply up the audit levels.

“This approach was designed to inject a higher support rate to smaller herds, crofters and new entrants and we will be pressing for this matter to form part of the mid-term review of new CAP arrangements.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 166/14


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