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Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Act 2020

Pillar 1

Voluntary Coupled Support (VCS)

27.Under the CAP, the link between the receipt of income support payments and the production of specific products has been progressively removed (‘decoupled’). This is to avoid overproduction of certain products and to make sure that farmers are responding to genuine market demand.

28.In some situations, however, targeted aid to a specific agricultural sector or sub-sector may be needed as it is undergoing economic difficulties. The VCS scheme aims to prevent the escalation of these difficulties, which could cause abandonment of production with a knock-on effect on other parts of the supply chain or associated markets.

29.The Direct Payments Regulation allows Member States to continue to link (couple) a limited amount of income support payments to certain sectors or products, subject to various conditions and strict limits to mitigate the risk of market distortion. This support scheme is known as Voluntary Coupled Support.

30.The sectors that are potentially eligible for VCS are cereals, oilseeds, protein crops, grain legumes, flax, hemp, rice, nuts, starch potato, milk and milk products, seeds, sheepmeat and goatmeat, beef and veal, olive oil, silkworms, dried fodder, hops, sugar beet, cane and chicory, fruit and vegetables and short rotation coppice.

31.In Scotland, the two VCS schemes designed to try and address declining livestock numbers are the:

  • Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (SSBSS), and

  • Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS).

32.The SSBSS provides additional support, on top of the BPS, to specialist beef producers. Payments are made based on the numbers of eligible animals declared. Eligible animals are male and female calves, with at least 75% beef genetics, born on a Scottish holding and kept there for at least 30 days.

33.The SUSSS provides additional support, on top of the BPS, to help sheep producers farming in Scotland’s rough grazing areas maintain their sheep flocks. Payments are made based on the numbers of eligible animals declared. Eligible animals are ewe hoggs (female sheep) born on Scottish holdings with poor quality rough grazing. The ewe hoggs must be less than 12 months old at the start of a retention period.(9) Payments will be made up to a maximum of one ewe hogg per four hectares of land claimed.

34.For that purpose, a holding qualifies as being in a rough grazing area if:

  • 80% or more of the agricultural land is in basic payment region three, and

  • no more than 200 hectares is good quality agricultural land in basic payment region one.


A retention period is where claimed animals must be retained on the holding from 1 December in the year of the claim to 31 March the following year.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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