2016-04-06   facebooktwitterrss

Warning to Crofters of Drop in Sheep Payment

The Scottish Crofting Federation has learned that crofters are being informally warned by government officials to not expect the full ewe hogg payment as the scheme is over-subscribed.

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) vice-chair Russell Smith said,
“We have been told that the ewe hogg scheme has far more applications than were originally expected due to larger upland farms having retained greater numbers of hoggs than they would usually in order to get the payment. This is their right of course, but it means that the money that was touted as the ‘top-up’ to the dismal basic payment on rough grazing of around £7 per hectare will be watered down. This was to be expected surely – if Scottish Government offers payments on a headage basis then crofters and farmers retain more eligible stock. It is an obvious consequence of subsidy manipulation.”


To qualify for the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme – the ewe hogg scheme as it is known - 80% or more of the agricultural land must be in Payment Region 3 and less than 200 hectares of the agricultural land must be in Payment Region 1. Payments will be made on homebred ewe hoggs. Estimated payment rates of around £80/hogg were predicted, but the actual payment will depend on the total number of eligible hoggs claimed as the budget is fixed. Therefore as the total number of hoggs retained for payment goes up, the payment per hogg goes down. The retention period is over and crofters and upland farmers are waiting to hear what the rates will be and when they will be paid.

Mr Smith continued, “The whole agricultural support scheme based on three payment regions and headage top-ups, allegedly designed and called for by the NFUS, has been a disaster for crofters, and it seems set to worsen. Crofters have made business plans on the published estimate and now it looks like it will be very much reduced, by possibly 25% it is said.

The only way to make it work for crofters,” Mr Smith concluded, “would be to ‘front load’ the scheme; that is pay a higher rate on the first 20 or 25 hoggs. SCF has lobbied for this. In the meantime we will continue to press Scottish Government for final amounts and when they will be paid so that crofters can plan ahead.”


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