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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-04100: Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 27 October 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on paying Beef Efficiency Scheme participants over the whole five-year period of the scheme, and whether this will encourage uptake of the scheme.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 8 November 2016

The scheme rules on payment rates and on the payment schedule have been agreed with the European Commission and the scheme has been advertised to potential applicants as such. Currently we do not plan to change the payment rate or to extend payments to years four and fiveTo change the payment schedule would require negotiation of a programme modification with the Commission and if this were to involve any increase in overall payments the Commission would require clear justification for such a change. Furthermore, any such change would have to be externally verified.

It was also felt that it would be more helpful to front-load bigger payments to farmers in the first three years rather than spread smaller payments more thinly over the full five years.

It is also worth noting that the scheme is designed to deliver efficiencies which will increase the profitability of farms. It is important to recognise this as a core benefit of the programme. In essence, the payments received from the government in the first three years will be followed by management changes which will increase net incomes to farms year-on-year into the future. We see this as a key motivation for applying to the scheme and, in the long-term