Producers primed to beef up production
Scotland’s cattle producers should look to the long term and prepare for the growing market opportunities of the future so that the industry can continue producing for the world’s population.
That was the message from Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead on the first day of the Royal Highland Show.
Speaking at the Quality Meat Scotland breakfast, Mr Lochhead said growing demand for red meat, high prices and increasing export opportunities had led to unprecedented demand.
However, he stressed that cattle producers must work hard and smart to ensure the demand is met and that Scotland is able to supply the new markets we are pursuing.
And Mr Lochhead also called for the UK government to ensure Scotland gets a fair share of the CAP budget to help equip the industry for the future.
Mr Lochhead said:
“Our red meat is increasingly sought after on dining tables both at home and abroad. But with this growing demand it’s vital that our producers do what they do best and produce and enough to supply the new markets Scotland is pursuing.
“ We don’t want to find ourselves having worked hard to open up export markets but then find ourselves unable to meet demand.
“Scotland’s farmers are the foundations of our red meat sector. Without them, producing livestock in a clean, efficient and profitable way, then the industry will crumble. Our livestock producers have every reason to keep producing.
“Government also has a role in ensuring a flourishing farming sector and I see that role as being to deliver a policy framework which helps, rather than hinders, the industry.
“A crucial factor in the success of Scotland’s farming industry, be it livestock or arable, is the Common Agricultural Policy which is why it’s absolutely vital that we get the best possible deal on CAP reform - and that means a fair share of the budget.
“The bottom line is that Scotland gets a pitiful share of the CAP budget. Previous UK governments have let us down which is why I would urge Jim Paice, who is at the show today, and his UK government colleagues, to pick up the pace and ensure that Scotland get the share of the budget we need.
“I’m sure the farmers Mr Paice meets here today will leave him in no doubt as to the strength of feeling on this issue. We have the fourth lowest Pillar 1 and the lowest Pillar 2 payments per hectare in the whole of Europe. Yet these payments are vital to farmers who face rising input costs. This situation is simply untenable.
“Our calculations show that, as an independent nation, Scotland could reap massive rewards from CAP reform of between £100 and £200 million extra each year. That adds weight to our case for a budget divided much more fairly on the basis of need.
“We are working hard – in Brussels and at Westminster – to make our vision for a future CAP for Scotland a reality. We are making progress – notably on proposals to stop slipper farming, which have been introduced thanks to our lobbying – but we must go further.
“But the UK government holds the key and I’m calling today on Jim Paice and Caroline Spelman not to let us down.”
A handy guide to CAP reform has also been published to update Scottish farmers and crofters about the progress of the negotiations and to highlight Scotland’s CAP reform priorities:
- Key decisions to be taken in Scotland, so that future support reflects Scotland’s diverse farming needs
- A fairer Direct Payment system which allows new entrants to compete on a level playing field
- Payments should only be made where land is actively farmed
- An option to increase the level of coupled support above the five per cent proposed to no less than 10 per cent
- CAP greening rules must be workable and farmers must get credit for work already done
Handy guide to CAP reform
CAP reform blog
Rural issues newsletter