ELIGIBLE FARMERS and crofters have been reminded to apply to the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS) before its deadline of December 31, 2019.

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

SSBSS support is available for calves provided they are at least 75% beef bred, born on a Scottish holding and kept there for 30 days. This means that animals born on or after December 2, 2019 will not be eligible until next scheme year.

There is no limit to the number of claims eligible farmers and crofters can make. The scheme rate per animal will be determined by the total number of eligible animals claimed against its fixed budget. The payment rates for the 2018 claim year were £98.92 per mainland animal and £144.27 per island calf.

NFU Scotland’s livestock committee chair Jimmy Ireland, who farms at Darvel in Ayrshire, said: “Given what a difficult year it has been for Scotland’s iconic beef sector, with finished prices tumbling by almost £200 per head, the beef calf scheme will be more important than ever to a beef farmer’s bottom line. Every penny available under this scheme will be needed.

“This coupled support payment is a vital element in maintaining our beef sector, which produces sustainable and local beef based on Scotland’s natural ability to grow grass. I would urge farmers and crofters to take advantage of this support.”

• The full guidance for the Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme can be found here: https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/all-schemes/scottish-suckler-beef-support-scheme