Calls for Scottish Government to update BES applicants immediately

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 2000 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 beef herd whilst helping producers increase the genetic value of their stock and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Tissue tagging 20 percent of cattle for genetic evaluation is a crucial element of scheme rules but no tissue tags have yet been received by scheme applicants.

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.

“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 £45 million 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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