Farmers demand clarity on efficiency scheme

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland is demanding the government to provide information on when applicants to Scotland’s new Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES) will receive necessary tags to meet scheme rules. 

There is an estimated 180,000 beef cows from 2,000 Scottish farmers that have enrolled in the five-year, £45 million scheme. It is designed to improve the efficiency, sustainability and quality of the beef herd whilst helping producers increase the genetic value of their stock and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

An important element to the scheme is tissue tagging 20% of cattle for genetic evaluation, yet not all scheme applicants have received their tissue tags, according to NFU Scotland. This has resulted in some farmers being frustrated due them already rehousing cattle for the winter, some of them some distance from the home farm.

Subsequently, the farming union has urged the Scottish government to update all scheme applicants on progress with BES and to let them know when the necessary tags will arrive. Given the delays, farmers should be given as wide a window as possible to return the tissue samples.

“We are now into November and it is unacceptable that those who have applied to the new Beef Efficiency Scheme do not have tissue tags on farms,” said Charlie Adam, NFU Scotland’s livestock committee chairman. “NFU Scotland has supported this scheme and we want to see it succeed, believing it can improve our beef herd. However, a lack of information and delays are affecting confidence in the scheme.

“If tag delays cannot be resolved in the immediate future, then the Scottish government should recognise the problem and make the tissue tagging element voluntary for 2016. This will allow those who can take samples from the animals that they still own to do so. Applicants to this important scheme, worth £45m to the industry, have every right to know now, and in detail, what they are expected to do to fulfil their BES obligations and Scottish government must get back on the front foot in delivering the scheme.”

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