Union urges clar­ity over Beef Ef­fi­ciency Scheme

The Oban Times - - FARMING -

NFU Scot­land is urg­ing the govern­ment to pro­vide clar­ity on when ap­pli­cants to Scot­land’s new Beef Ef­fi­ciency Scheme are go­ing to re­ceive the tags nec­es­sary to meet scheme rules.

An es­ti­mated 180,000 beef cows from 2,000 Scot­tish farm­ers have en­rolled in the new five-year £45 mil­lion ru­ral de­vel­op­ment scheme, which looks to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency, sus­tain­abil­ity and qual­ity of the herd while help­ing pro­duc­ers in­crease the ge­netic value of their stock and re­duce their green­house gas emis­sions.

Tis­sue tag­ging 20 per cent of cat­tle for ge­netic eval­u­a­tion is a cru­cial el­e­ment of the scheme rules but no tis­sue tags have yet been re­ceived by scheme ap­pli­cants. The NFUS says that is frus­trat­ing for the many farm­ers who have al­ready housed and han­dled their cat­tle for the win­ter, with many of those an­i­mals now lo­cated in over­win­ter­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion that is some dis­tance from the home farm.

Be­cause of the on­go­ing de­lay, the union has urged the Scot­tish Govern­ment to up­date all scheme ap­pli­cants on progress with BES and, as a pri­or­ity, let them know when the nec­es­sary tags will ar­rive. Given the de­lays, farm­ers must be given as wide a win­dow as pos­si­ble to return the tis­sue sam­ples.

NFU Scot­land’s live­stock com­mit­tee chair­man Char­lie Adam said: ‘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. NFUS 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.

‘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 they still own to do so.

‘Ap­pli­cants to this scheme, worth £45 mil­lion to the in­dus­try, have ev­ery right to know now, in de­tail, what they are ex­pected to do to ful­fil their BES obli­ga­tions and Scot­tish Govern­ment must get back on the front foot.’

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