SCOTLAND, UK - Plans have been announced by the Scottish Government to improve the efficiency, sustainability and quality of the beef industry.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced the move as he confirmed the Scottish Government has accepted the recommendations of the Beef 2020 industry expert group, which was chaired by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren.
The beef efficiency scheme will include a national livestock database and support for farmers to identify the key actions they are going to take on-farm including measures to improve cow fertility, reduce disease, optimise nutrition through feed analysis, and maximise grass and soil management.
The cattle database will be backed by the £45 million Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) beef support package announced by the Rural Affairs Secretary last year.
Subject to EU approval of the detail, £40 million of that funding will be enable beef farmers to collect genetic and herd management information to inform future breeding decisions. Much of the remainder will be spent expanding the ScotEID database system to interface with other cattle data sources such as markets and abattoirs.
On a visit to a cattle sale at the ANM Thainstone Centre in Inverurie, Mr Lochhead said: “Beef is the jewel in Scotland’s agricultural crown.
"It is our single biggest farming sector and makes up more than a quarter of Scottish agricultural output. This extra support from the Scottish Government will give the beef sector the opportunity to adapt and prosper as the full impact of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regime takes effect.
"This is a significant investment and commitment to the beef sector given the notoriously inadequate share of the CAP budget handed to Scotland.”
Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, warmly welcomed the Cabinet Secretary’s broad acceptance of the Report’s recommendations and confirmed he is to lead a group to oversee their implementation.
He said: "The implementation of these recommendations will present a fantastic opportunity for the beef industry in Scotland to move forward with confidence. The adoption of these measures will strengthen our industry’s resilience to the wide range of factors, many without our control, which influence the beef market."
NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam attended the announcement. He said afterwards: “This package offers a great opportunity to give the sector a boost. Those charged with its design and delivery will be well aware that engaging with all Scotland’s beef farmers – big or small - will be key to its success.
“Getting the detail right is important and that is why the Union’s livestock committee has already written to Scottish Government in the past few weeks with our thoughts on how the beef efficiency scheme can deliver maximum benefit to the industry.”
TheCattleSite News Desk
Top image via Shutterstock