Scottish Farmers Need Meaningful Cap Reform Deal30 August 2013
SCOTLAND – The Scottish Farmers Union has reiterated that Scotland’s beef farmers need coupled support payments to remain as part of a meaningful Common Agricultural Policy deal.
Without this, NFU Scotland has warned that the country’s beef herd may continue its ‘alarming decline’ and put a key industry at risk.
Beef production accounts for over 20 per cent of Scotland’s agricultural output and has had UK level lobbying to arrest the decline of the beef herd.
Scottish calf numbers dropped by 30,000 last year from 432,000 in 2011, according to the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme survey results.
Furthermore, there are also 500 fewer businesses claiming to own beef calves, leading NFU Scotland to think many are leaving beef farming altogether.
Warnings have been issued to both Defra Secretary of State, Owen Paterson and Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead.
An NFU Scotland producer survey has been disseminated to assess farmer confidence in the run up to CAP reform.
Industry leaders have described the industry Scottish farmers are involved in as ‘world famous and ‘the cornerstone of farming in Scotland’.
He added that beef cows had been decreasing, down 1000 head since 2005.
“Dramatic figures for 2012 beef calf scheme claims are alarming with the realistic expectation that figures for 2013 will be poorer again.
“The current debate on implementation of new CAP rules in Scotland presents an opportunity to provide clear direction, arrest the decline and drive some confidence back into beef production.”
Mr Miller links critical mass of beef production with processing diversity which, if lost, could be damaging for the Scottish beef brand.
“Critical mass of beef production is vital if we are to retain a diverse and innovative processing sector,” said Mr Miller.
“The loss of abattoir capacity from Orkney and Aberdeenshire and the closure of contract kill operators in St Andrews and Galashiels has already reduced the diversity of the sector. That has the potential to erode the value of the Scotch brand in markets across the border and overseas and the ability of the brand to deliver premiums back to farm.”