Speaking at Scotland’s premier agriculture event, the Royal Highland Show, industry representatives stressed the importance of maintaining critical numbers of livestock in order to meet the demand, saying that despite strong sales and increasing demand, the red meat industry was on a “knife-edge” due to the tightness of supply.
Jim McLaren, chairman of Scottish industry levy body Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), told industry representatives that while he was confident the future was bright for Scotland’s industry, it was clear that CAP budgets were key drivers to increasing production.
He said: “We must have a system flexible enough to target support at active livestock producers and principally at those who are breeding.
“Maintaining critical levels of raw material is crucial and it is vital we maintain the livestock numbers needed to satisfy the demand for our world-acclaimed brands, a demand that is set to grow year-on-year.”
Scottish Rural Development Minister Richard Lochhead went further, describing Scotland’s share of the CAP budget as “pitiful” and calling on the UK government to step up its pace and ensure that Scotland gets a fairer share.
He said: “Scotland’s farmers are the foundations of our red meat sector. Without them producing livestock in a clean, efficient and profitable way, the industry will crumble. Our livestock producers have every reason to keep producing.
“Our red meat is increasingly sought after on dining tables both at home and abroad, but with this growing demand it is 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 unable to meet demand.”
The National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) and the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) have also called on the UK government to push for favourable budgetary CAP support for Scotland’s red meat producers.