CABINET Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead has announced he has set aside £2 million to help new Scottish entrant farmers over the next two years until the new direct payments system begins in 2015.

Speaking at the NFU Scotland AGM yesterday, Mr Lochhead said: "Scotland has a wealth of talented young farmers who are eager to farm and help shape the future of the industry in Scotland.

"We need these farmers. They are the future of our industry, but the current system leaves them disadvantaged.

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"Within the EU rules, I am seeking ways to help and the funding I have unveiled today will provide some support for those farmers who are currently ineligible for subsidies. I have asked the New Entrants Advisory Panel to provide urgent advice about how best to spend the money and how to ensure it is allocated fairly."

The Cabinet Secretary also gave Scotland's meat sector a triple boost when he outlined plans to support the industry.

A £1m campaign will aim to strengthen the Scotch label, develop new markets and support marketing of the Scotch brands – beef, sheep and pork.

This work will include a £250,000 campaign to enable the sheep industry to develop new markets for lamb and exploit the availability of prime Scottish lambs.

Mr Lochhead explained both the cattle and sheep sectors required support to help them maximise the image of the Scotch brand to make the most of opportunities.

A wider study across the meat sector has also been commissioned to help better understand the market. Among other things, the survey will look at what is on sale in Scotland and which retailers provide the best support for producers.

Lawrie and Symington sold 14 prime heifers in Lanark on Monday to a top of 246p per kg and an average of 220.6p (+7.3p on the week), while 12 prime beef-bred bullocks peaked at 235p and levelled at 213.3p (no change). Fourteen prime B&W bullocks averaged 178.7p (+10p).

In the rough ring, 54 beef cows averaged 143p and 31 dairy cows levelled at 116p. Eleven OTM cattle averaged 153p. The firm also sold 2603 prime hoggs to a top of £96 per head and 226.8p per kg to average 168.5p (+6p).

The 1025 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £120.50 for Texels and £60.50 for Blackfaces, with the overall average levelling at £50.55 (n/c).

At the fortnightly sale of dairy cattle, the 13 head forward were topped by a Holstein heifer at £2200 and averaged £1709 (+£88 on the previous sale).

Harrison and Hetherington sold 99 store bullocks in Lockerbie yesterday to a top of 262.8p and an average of 222.5p (+6.5p on the previous sale), while 122 store heifers peaked at 265.4p and levelled at 203.9p (+8.1p). Nine young bulls sold to 229.6p and averaged 199.6p (-6.1p).