NFU Scotland has welcomed confirmation that Scotland’s beef herd is on the rise following an increase in successful claims made to the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme (SBCS).
According to Scottish Government figures, approximately 422,500 calves were claimed in 2010 - around 16,500 more than in 2009.
This follows an increase in beef cow numbers recorded in the June 2010 agricultural census. The beef herd in Scotland declined steadily from its peak of 535,000 cows in 1998 to 450,000 in 2009 but last year saw the beef cow figure rise to 458,000.
The higher number of claimed calves will mean a reduction in the payment rate. The actual payment rate per calf in sterling is further reduced because of the less favourable exchange rate for the 2010 Scheme compared to the 2009 Scheme. The difference in the exchange rate reduces the payment by 5.4 percent.
The good news for beef calf producers is that the Scottish Government will commence making payments into bank accounts from Tuesday (April 5) and it is expected that 95 percent of claimants will be paid by Friday (April 8).
NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:
“The increase in beef calf numbers in Scotland and a commitment to get almost all calf scheme payments into bank accounts by the end of next week are both good news stories for Scotland’s beef sector.
“The recovery in beef cow numbers is welcome but remains fragile. With fodder stocks tight on farm and cereal prices doubled, the beef trade can, at best, be described as dull. There is a danger that any recovery might stall without a rise in cattle prices to cover soaring costs of production. Given the efforts to bolster our beef industry, any check in the recovery would be a disappointment.
“Knowing that calf scheme payments are on the way will be a relief to many livestock farmers as there has been considerable pressure on cash flows this winter. The SBCS payment run comes at the same time as the Scottish Government works towards getting the final LFA support scheme payments out the door. We know that both these payments are needed and appreciated at farm level.
“Further ahead, we look forward to working with the new Scottish Government following the May elections in shaping a Scottish Beef Calf Scheme for the future.
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