Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme:application deadline looms

Scotland’s Chief Agricultural Officer David Barnes today (5 October) reminded farmers to apply for their share of a £6.1 million fund to support upland sheep by midnight on October 16, 2015.

This is the first year of the new scheme which will provide support to help maintain flocks in some of the most challenging agricultural land in Scotland. Payment under this scheme is due in 2016.

In order to be eligible for the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme a sheep producer must have homebred ewe hoggs, no more than 200 ha of payment region 1 land, and 80 per cent of their holding must consist of land in payment region 3. Payment will be restricted to one ewe hogg for every four hectares. The scheme is targeted at sheep production on the poorest quality land; other sheep producers are not eligible for this scheme, but will receive higher payments under the Basic and Greening Payments schemes.

Chief Agricultural Officer David Barnes said: “With less than two weeks until the final deadline on 16 October 2015 I would urge all farmers who think they might be entitled to a share of the fund apply to ensure they receive financial support. Following a challenging summer for farmers, the new scheme will provide a welcome support for a vital part of the farming industry. This is the first time we have offered a targeted support scheme to this part of the sheep sector and there are specific rules about who is eligible. I would urge sheep farmers to read the scheme guidance to see if they are eligible.

“Any farmers who haven’t already done so, should get their applications in now. Applications can be made securely online, or paper applications can be completed and sent to the Scottish Government’s Rural Payment and Inspections Division (RPID) Inverness area office. We know that not all our customers have access to broadband at home, which is why customers can apply on paper or they can pop in to use one of the computers in their local RPID area office – which can be booked in advance.”

Sheep farming is a key agricultural use of rough grazing, with 8800 employed on specialist sheep holdings in Scotland. In 2011, specialist sheep businesses in the LFA (Less Favoured Areas) accounted for 20 per cent of Scotland’s SFP recipients and 6 per cent of total direct payments.

The Scottish Upland Sheep Support scheme is one of the Scottish Government’s decisions as part of the new CAP arrangement from 2015. It is part of a package of measures designed to reward activity and eliminate as far as possible the so-called “slipper farmers.

Applications can be made online at https://www.ruralpayments.org or submitted by paper to the Inverness area office.

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