Industry builds on new Scottish Beef Efficiency Scheme

Several Scottish industry bodies are looking to drive uptake of the new Scottish Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES) before the 31 May deadline. 

Representatives from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland, alongside the Scottish Beef Association (SBA), Scottish Government, The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Beef 2020, met in Edinburgh on Monday (9 May 2016), where they agreed to develop the growing support for the scheme.

BES will be worth an estimated £45 million over three years.

Producers and farmers who get involved with the scheme, designed to improve efficiency, sustainability and quality of the Scottish beef herd, will able to receive support worth £32 per calf for three years.

“The union has worked hard to gain clarity on some of the outstanding concerns,” said NFU Scotland livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam.

“The European Commission has been quite clear that BES cannot be a coupled scheme and there is no option to bolster beef production by pushing further funds into our current beef calf scheme.”

Adam said that while the scheme was “not coupled to production”, it did provide money to farmers based on their herd size in 2015 and would give assistance to producers who have experienced a significant reduction in their payments.

“There are many merits to the aims of the scheme and much of what farmers are asked to do will benefit their business. In these difficult times, most producers are looking very hard at the bottom line and, through BES, a typical herd of 75 cows will get access to an estimated £7,000 thanks to the scheme. In these cash-strapped times, very few businesses can afford to let the opportunity of an additional funding stream pass.”

Adam added that although the scheme was designed to provide payments for the first three years, NFU Scotland would work to make sure that farmers are in fact paid for an additional two years.

“It is worth reminding those who are swithering that for those who sign up to BES and ultimately decide it is not for them, we have assurance from Scottish Government that they can withdraw without penalty up until payment by the Scottish government in 2017. However, if you don’t sign up by 31 May, then the opportunity for an established beef herd is lost.”

Despite this, the union will continue to push for the scheme to be adapted to allow new entrants to join and for developing businesses to be taken into better account. “They are the future of the Scottish industry and the ones who will deliver the benefits and efficiencies of the scheme in the long term.”

Scott Henderson of the SBA said that the association was 100% behind the aims of the BES. “It firstly gives additional subsidy support equivalent to £32 per calf per year for at least the next three years,” he said. “The information that farmers need to provide is no more than most producers record anyway.

“Applicants also get the services of a specialist consultant, free of charge, to help identify your own weaknesses.

“Although a five-year scheme – and funding is only guaranteed for the first three – the efficiency gains generated by management changes throughout its course should deliver back to the bottom line of the business long before the money runs out.

“For every extra calf you sell, it will add directly to your profit with, in many cases, no extra costs and the same can be said for every kilo extra of liveweight gain your cattle achieve.”

The BES system will be hosted on: and potential participants need to complete an application form on ScotEID before Tuesday 31 May 2016.

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