Around 2,000 farmers and crofters have signed up to the new Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES), according to figures released yesterday.
A last-minute surge in applications for the five-year scheme, which is set to pay out £45million to industry over a three-year period, has resulted in an estimated 179,000 beef cows being put forward for support.
A Scottish Government spokesman yesterday said that as of Tuesday 41% of all eligible beef cows in Scotland had been entered into the scheme, however the number is set to rise to 50% once other applications have been processed.
Speaking at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, NFU Scotland vice president Andrew McCornick said the union was lobbying government to ensure all the money set aside for the scheme was used for its intended purpose.
He called for a second round of applications to be considered next year and for the funding to be increased to cover the whole five-year period of the scheme, rather than just the first three.
Mr McCornick also called for government to adapt the rules to attract more small herds to participate in the scheme and to allow expanding and new herds to participate.
Union president, Allan Bowie, added: “With half of the eligible herd yet to sign up, we are keen for the Scottish Government to make positive changes to the scheme, making it more attractive to all cattle farmers.
“There remains a job to do for all parties committed to making BES a success, including Scottish government, in explaining all aspects of the scheme to existing and potential applicants. That said, this is a positive start.”