Rural Affairs Secretary to address farmers’ union

 Winter countryside in December 2022, Midlothian. Photographer - Barrie Williams. Copyright of Scottish Government.
Alan Robertson

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has announced a new payment scheme for farmers and crofters to improve the health and welfare of sheep and cattle, ahead of an address to the National Farmers Union Scotland annual general meeting.

From summer 2023, livestock keepers will be able to claim a new £250 payment for specific interventions, such as vet screening of livestock for certain diseases, which will lead to improvements in the health and welfare of Scotland’s sheep and cattle.

Research shows healthy livestock produce less emissions, require less veterinary treatment and fewer antibiotics. Sheep and cattle make up a significant amount of the greenhouse gas emissions contributed by agriculture in Scotland.

The new payment scheme is one of the first early reforms delivered by the Scottish Government to encourage a more sustainable and regenerative agriculture sector in Scotland. It follows the introduction of carbon audits and soil sampling last year and will pave the way for a post-Brexit future support framework for agriculture.

Speaking ahead of her address to the National Farmers Union Scotland on Friday 10 February, Ms Gougeon said:

“Scotland’s farmers are the backbone of our nation, producing much of the food and drink that ends up on our dinner tables. With Brexit, the pandemic and, now, rising inflation, this period has seen some of the most challenging times the sector has ever faced.

“Despite this our farmers and crofters remain resilient, and I am determined to support them over the next few years as we transition from the EU’s CAP Payment system to a support framework that realises our vision for Scotland to be a global leader in sustainable agriculture.

“The new animal health and welfare payment is one of the first steps in this process and will reward farmers who take an active role in improving the health and welfare of the animals they keep."

The Scottish Government has also today published the timetable for 2023 payments to the agricultural sector, to help businesses plan for the year ahead.

The Rural Affairs Secretary is also expected to announce in her speech the opening of the next round of the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF), which provides funding for projects in the agricultural sector that promote skills development and knowledge transfer. Since 2015 the fund has awarded £7.5 million to 52 projects across Scotland, including the prominent five year Monitor Farm Programme.

New applications seeking up to £200,000 worth of funding are welcomed from 10 February to 10 March 2023.


Animal health and welfare payment

A total of seven specific animal health and welfare interventions will be funded under the Scottish Government’s Preparing for Sustainable Farming initiative, co-designed with experts, including the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board members.  All registered sheep and cattle keepers who have a Business Reference Number (BRN) allocated by the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) will be eligible for a standard payment per completed intervention.

Up to two animal health and welfare options can be applied for in 2023 and up to two (same or different options) in 2024.  In the first year of claiming, farmers will also be paid a standard cost for continuing professional development (CPD) of their choice.  In all cases, the standard cost will be £250 per option and £250 for CPD, claimed after the option is completed.  The potential maximum per claimant is £1250 over two years. 

Read more on the Rural Payments and Services website.

2023 payments timetable


Payments commence

Regulatory target: 95.24% of total value of payments made

Basic Payment Scheme and Greening payment - Advance

September 2023


Basic Payment Scheme / Greening / Young Farmer Payment - Balance

December 2023

June 2024

Less Favoured Area Support Scheme

December 2023

June 2024

Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (Mainland & Island)

April 2024

June 2024

Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme

May 2024

June 2024

Agri Environment Climate Scheme

March 2024

June 2024

Forestry Grant Scheme

March 2024

June 2024

Rural Priorities

March 2024

June 2024

More details on the agricultural support schemes provided by the Scottish Government are available here: All schemes (

The 2023 payment timetable covers Direct Payments and Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) payments.