SAMW comment on transfer announcement by Food Standards Scotland 

SAMW President, Andy McGowan, said: “We welcome the fact that FSS has made a clear decision on this issue and that everyone can now focus on how the official controls (OC) procedure is run rather than who runs it.

“Our principle concern has always focused on the need for member businesses to be provided with an OC service which is 100% effective and flexible with all inspection staff being deployed in the most efficient manner possible.

“The red meat processing sector already carries a heavy cost burden for meat inspections which many competitive food processors do not face. This puts us at a financial disadvantage which needs to be addressed by the Government, in terms of applying the same inspection rules and costs across all food processing areas, and by FSS, in terms of ensuring that the current procedure is run on the most cost-effective basis possible.

“We have repeatedly stated that any available vet and meat inspection resource which is found to be surplus to our fluctuating business needs should be made more nimble, allowing all under-deployed resource to be immediately reallocated to undertake public health inspection requirements in other food businesses and industries. The current inflexible and rigid system is an inefficient use of public funds, which we hope the new delivery structure will address.”

Click on transfer announcement in the heading to access the FSS statement

Scotland’s meat wholesalers have developed a four-point strategy, designed to reboot the country’s falling livestock numbers, along with a plea for Government action to be taken immediately rather than waiting for post-Brexit pilot trials to be run in 2022 or 2023.

“The latest figures show calf registrations down by another 2% and, if we wait until Brexit and transition is finished, we’ll have lost another 15% of our national livestock output,” said Andy McGowan, SAMW President.

“Building up the Highland each year is always a reminder of the quality of our livestock and the tremendous stockmanship skills available across Scotland. Unfortunately, what we command in quality we sadly lack in quantity, and we can’t go on merely celebrating the dying embers of our industry as each year passes.”

SAMW’s call for action includes the following strategy demands:

  • Uplift in funding for beef calf producers
  • Revamp the upland sheep support scheme
  • Extend Producer Organisations to all livestock sectors
  • Simplify the Beef Efficiency Scheme

“We know the Scottish Government has set out its ambitions for the future of the rural economy in its Stability and Simplicity document, a plan which includes many sound proposals and objectives,” said Mr McGowan. “At the same time, however, the document lacks the urgency which our declining livestock numbers demand, if we’re to turn this industry around before it’s too late.

“A Government strategy of keeping things broadly the same until Brexit is settled and then running pilot schemes in 2022/23 to see what might work in the longer term is no good to us. We need these pilots to start now and for the demands of our four-point strategy to be addressed immediately.”

Demand one – Uplift in funding for beef calf producers
SAMW says: “The breeding sector is the cornerstone of the beef herd yet only receives £40m in public sector support via the suckler beef scheme, less than 1% of the total budget. This is inadequate and should be increased to £100m from 2019 onwards to provide a support payment of £250 for every beef calf produced.”

Demand two – Revamp the upland sheep support scheme
SAMW says: “With a current budget of around £8m, the impact of these support payments on an already fragile sector is modest. In addition, this same sector is about to be hit very hard as a consequence of the reduced value of LFASS payments in 2019 and 2020.”

Demand three – Extend Producer Organisations to all livestock sectors
SAMW says: “Producer Organisations have been instrumental in integrating and modernising the Scottish supply chains for fruit and vegetables. Extending this legislation to include the livestock sectors would be a cheap and highly effective way of driving supply chain efficiency for Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.”

Demand four – Simplify the Beef Efficiency Scheme
SAMW says: “While the Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES) injects welcome support into the breeding sector, participation in BES is dropping to a new low as many potential participants see it as overly prescriptive and bureaucratic. It needs to be simplified and focused on rewarding the key behaviours that deliver climate change gains and increase the overall efficiency and productivity of farming enterprises.”

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Mike will be greatly missed by everyone who knew and worked with him throughout his many years as a deeply committed and loyal member of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers. One of the founding fathers of the association, his long-standing involvement in our executive board was appreciated by all the presidents he served, each [...]

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