Livestock threat to Scottish meat industry

Falling livestock numbers threaten to derail the Scottish meat industry and cause lasting damage.

The stark warning comes from Alan Craig, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), who said unless production was rebuilt, Scotland’s international reputation as a source of quality meat would be seriously diminished.

“The steady decline in numbers which we’ve had to endure in recent years is eating away at the very fabric of our industry,” he said. “The main problem is the farmers who had herds of 400-500 but who are only now keeping 100 cattle - and receiving the same subsidy. We’ve now reached a critical stage…unless 2010 delivers a genuine turning point, our whole farm-to-plate industry will suffer severe and lasting damage.”

Craig said a strategy to boost livestock production was a priority concern for meat sector companies in 2010 and that the Scottish government’s ongoing Pack Inquiry into future agricultural policy needed all-industry attention at the highest possible level.

He said other issues also needed to be addressed, such as the need for a fair deal on meat inspection charges and the removal of unnecessary abattoir controls at both European and national level.

“Intense industry discussion, over the next few months, on the future restructuring of agricultural support will create public opportunities for us to communicate what food and farming really means to the Scottish nation,” he said.