Dave Thompson MSP welcomes Scottish Government support for beef farmers

Highland MSP Welcomes Scottish Government Support For Beef Farmers

SKYE, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Dave Thompson has welcomed news of Scottish Government support for hard-pressed beef producers in smaller farms and crofts.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced a new Scottish Beef Scheme to target payments towards smaller crofters and farmers in “less favoured areas” to help them continue in business until new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regulations are introduced.

The Cabinet Secretary’s announcement of a replacement for the former Scottish Beef Calf Scheme, which could no longer continue under CAP legislation, was needed to fill a gap in funding while new CAP arrangements are negotiated with the EU.

Mr Thompson, whose constituency is home to many crofters and smaller farmers of the scale the new initiative is designed to protect, said the new arrangement would make the difference between financial ruin and survival for a large number of producers.

“Richard’s announcement removes any uncertainty that might have forced some farmers away from Scotland’s extremely important beef sector or dissuaded new entrants to beef production,” he said.
“Scotch Beef is famed throughout the world for its high quality and its export earns millions of pounds each year for this country’s economy so it is vital that a short interruption of support for our crofters and farmers is not allowed to damage the sector.

“With this new interim arrangement, Richard has been able to steer a careful path between giving small producers the finance they need to stay in business and falling foul of EU regulations on Government support.”

The announcement was also welcomed by Nigel Miller, president of NFU Scotland, who said: “Without taking this action, there was the risk that delays in securing a CAP reform agreement could have left us without any direct support for our beef industry. This interim announcement guarantees that the principles of the scheme will be preserved from 2012 until such times as a new CAP package is in place.”

Announcing the new scheme at the Turriff Show on Monday, Mr Lochhead said: “Despite strong demand, many producers struggle to make a profit, especially those with smaller extensive herds in less favoured areas.

“It was therefore essential that I took action to secure continued support for beef producers in the Scottish hills, and I am grateful for the advice given by stakeholders on how to achieve this.

“The new Scottish Beef Scheme allows us to target funding towards smaller herds through reweighted payment levels, so that the first ten eligible calves receive three times the payment rate for any subsequent calf. This will benefit the majority of claimants and is in line with the recommendations of the Pack Inquiry.

“To avoid unnecessary burdens on producers we are making the minimum changes needed to ensure the new scheme complies with EU requirements. Importantly we have ensured that funding continues at current levels until new CAP regulations come into force.”


CAP reforms in 2008 permitted the former Scottish Beef Calf Scheme to continue until 2012 but any replacement scheme has to comply with Article 68 of the Health Check Regulation (EC) 73/2009, which requires that Government financial support must be targeted at producers with specific disadvantages and struggle to break even. In practice, this means smaller beef producers in hill farms and other less favoured areas.

In 2010 payments under the former scheme totalling almost 30 million Euros (£26 million) were claimed for 422,500 beef calves (16,500 more than in 2009).

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