Scottish milk producers run the risk of losing out on their share of a £2.4m EU aid scheme which closes on 1 May with only 20 per cent having applied so far for payments that range between £1,000 and £4,000.

Scottish Government issued a news release on the scheme opening, but it has not written directly to all 900 dairy farmers informing them about it. Poor uptake suggests that information on this valuable support scheme is only slowly filtering out to farmers.

In 2016, the EU Commission recognised the crisis in the sector and set aside £350m to be shared out between each member state to contribute to dairy market stabilisation. The UK was allocated £25m, with Scotland receiving £2.4m.

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Under the terms of the Scottish scheme, the highest payment rate, £4,000, is available to farmers on Bute, Arran, Mull, and the Kintyre peninsula to protect the supply base for Campbeltown creamery. Farmers who were paid a milk price of less than 20p per litre (ppl) during 2016 can receive £3,250, producers who were receiving under 25p could get £2,000 each, while those who received 25ppl or more can receive £1,000.

As the scheme is linked to improving efficiency, producers must commit to simple production profiling and milk recording to qualify. An estimated two-thirds of Scottish dairy herds already milk record on a regular basis.

Application forms can be downloaded electronically or requested from local SGRIPD offices. Guidance on the scheme is also available from the Scottish Dairy Hub.

Market round-up

United Auctions sold 708 store heifers at Stirling on Wednesday to a top of 285.2p per kg and an average of 230.2p (+7.6p on the week), while 1155 store, beef-bred bullocks peaked at 313.7p and levelled at 235.4p (+4.1p). Sixteen store, B&W bullocks sold to 203.6p and averaged 158.2p (-7p).

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold a couple of prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 205p and an average of 190.4p, while a prime bullock fetched 104p.

In the rough ring 9 beef cows sold averaged 129p and 50 dairy cows levelled at 116.3p.

The firm also sold 573 prime hoggs to a top of £86.50 per head and 216p per kg to average 182p (+8p).

The 263 cast sheep forward saw heavy ewes sell to £112.50 for Texels and average £72.66, while light ewes peaked at £68.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £46.61.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 1008 prime hoggs to a top of £93 and 201.3p to average 175.3p (+5.3p).

The 180 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £123 for Beltex and £69.50 for Blackfaces.