Livestock Exodus Revealed by Census Figures

SCOTLAND, UK - Provisional results from the Scottish Government’s June 2008 Agricultural Census have further confirmed that Scottish agriculture is losing livestock numbers at an alarming rate.
calendar icon 26 September 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Figures show almost a 5 per cent drop in sheep numbers in the last year, a drop in pig numbers of over 6 per cent, and also a small drop in cattle numbers.

This further confirms the fears within the industry that many livestock producers are questioning their future and that many are leaving the industry due to poor returns.

"Sadly, this is just confirming what the industry already knew and what previous reports"
Jim McLaren, NFU Scotland President

Cereal area in Scotland has increased by nearly 11 per cent overall in the last year. This increase is due to two things; removal of set aside requirements and better prices in 2007 which would have encouraged people to grow more for 2008. The reality of a bad harvest and poorer prices in 2008, combined with difficult sowing conditions this autumn for getting in next year’s winter crops, means that we are likely to see a marked reduction next year.

Jim McLaren, NFU Scotland President, said:

“These provisional results again show a significant decline in sheep, pig and cattle numbers across Scotland. Sadly, this is just confirming what the industry already knew and what previous reports, such as the SAC’s Retreat from the Hills report, have shown.

“The loss of livestock at such a rate is extremely worrying. Farming provides not only the backbone of rural areas but also the food and drink that we, as members of the public, put on our dinner tables every day.

“The more we lose the very fabric of farming, the more we threaten our countryside, and thus our tourism industry, and our ability to feed ourselves as a nation.

“What these figures, and a great deal of additional evidence, show is that many are questioning their future in an industry that is currently marked by poor market returns and increasing input costs and, as a consequence, are leaving livestock farming. This alarming and very damaging trend must be halted if we are to ensure that we continue to see Scottish produce on our plates.

“NFU Scotland has put forward a suggested solution to halt the decline and we hope that others in the industry, along with governments at both UK and Scottish level will unite with us to help resolve this crisis.

“On the arable side, higher input costs and this summer’s terrible weather will make the planning of farmers’ marketing all the more vital. It is essential that farmers are growing crops they can not only be confident of meeting a specification with, but also returning a viable price from. It is crucial that producers enter into discussions with buyers before the crop is even sown.”

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