Farmers and crofters have started receiving payments through the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme (SUSSS), according to NFU Scotland.
The farming union said payments through the scheme, which is designed to support sheep producers in remote areas, were expected to start reaching bank accounts on Tuesday May 4.
It said the individual payment rate per eligible ewe hogg was £59.80 – this is down from £62.36 the year before due to an increase in the number of claims made.
NFU Scotland less favoured areas (LFA) committee chairman Robert Macdonald, who farms near Grantown on Spey, welcomed the “prompt payment” of support monies through the scheme.
“SUSSS remains a vital support stream for hill farmers and crofters and is one that the union’s LFA committee believes could still benefit from further rule revision,” said Mr Macdonald.
“Better targeting can and should be introduced by limiting the number of ewe hoggs claimed by each eligible applicant to 20% of their breeding flock. This would be in addition to the existing requirement that claimants require four hectares of Region 3 land per ewe hogg claimed.”
He added: “As a consequence, this would secure an increase in support going to those actively farming and crofting the most challenging land where lambing percentages are always restricted by a host of physical factors.”
The Scottish Government previously said SUSSS payments would begin in May.