FARMERS AND crofters have been urged to apply to the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme before its December 31 deadline.

Support is available for calves provided they are at least 75% beef bred, born on a Scottish holding and kept there for 30 days. Animals born on or after December 2 this year will not be eligible until next year’s scheme.

There is no limit to the number of claims that can be made to the scheme and the rate given per animal will be determined by the total number of eligible animals claimed.

In 2017, applicants received €111.20 (£99.49) per animal for SSBSS Mainland and €161.20 (£144.22) per animal for SSBSS Island.

The scheme’s annual budget of €38 million provides support to specialist beef producers for beef calves born on the Scottish mainland and €6.6 million for claims from the Scottish islands.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick commented: “The beef calf scheme is vital to Scotland’s beef sector, particularly given the higher costs of producing beef from the suckler herd.

“This year, every penny available under this scheme for those producing suckled beef calves will be needed given the rise in prices for straw and other inputs and the challenging forage conditions driven by the rainfall shortage this summer,” he stressed.

“This coupled support payment helps maintain our iconic beef sector, which produces sustainable beef based on Scotland’s natural ability to grow grass. I would urge farmers and crofters to take advantage of this support,” he concluded.