More than 1,000 Scottish sheep farming businesses will receive their share of around £6.6 million from today (Friday, May 10) as part of SUSSS, the Scottish government has announced.

97% of the eligible applications to the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS) 2023 have now been processed for payment.

The payments provide additional support, on top of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), to sheep producers who rely on poorer quality rough grazing land.

Scottish agriculture minister Jim Fairlie said he knows how important it is for Scottish sheep producers to have confidence in the support available to them being delivered “on time and as expected”.

“It is vital to being able to plan and budget for the year, so we are doing everything we possibly can to make sure the funding is in accounts as soon as possible.

“We are fortunate to have an incredible sheep farming sector that is globally renowned, with thousands of jobs dependant on well raised flocks, efficient distribution and enormous retail potential at home and abroad.

“We will continue to do all we can to provide the backing needed to protect the highest standards across the country and the communities that rely on them.”

Bluetongue in sheep

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has called for increased vigilance amongst the nation’s sheep farmers to protect their flocks, after the latest risk assessment quantifying the risk of bluetongue virus (BTV-3).

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) confirmed that there is a high probability of BTV being introduced to livestock in Britain through infected biting midges, which is being blown over to the UK from Northern Europe.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker, said that there is concern over how BTV-3 might affect the livestock sector this season.

He added that there has been a lot of discussion within the industry and with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) about how to best deal with this issue when it arrives.

The NSA added that the BTV-3 strain was first identified in the UK last November in cattle and sheep in South East England, but with midges having reduced activity over winter due to colder temperatures, the risk of disease was lowered.