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President’s comment on Pack Inquiry – final report

Alan Craig, President of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said: “We are generally supportive of the majority of the Report, which is good value and contains abundant evidence of subsidy being targeted at livestock production activity. However, our Association is concerned at the proposed removal of the calf-based payment for those farming non-LFA land. This accounts for 15% of Scotland’s most productive farmland, which is home to 18% of the country’s suckler cows and 41% of all finished cattle. These areas have many highly efficient and progressive cattle breeders and finishers whose specialist skills in the production of quality Scotch meat may be put at risk as a result of this proposal.

“While understanding the theory behind committing the country’s ‘more productive’ land to area based subsidy and the flexibility of the marketplace, we believe this move, in the short to intermediate term, is very high risk. We therefore urge that consideration be given to retaining a modest ‘base’ rate across all calves, regardless of their place of birth, with a subsequent increase for those raised in less favoured areas.

“We have consistently called for potency in the delivery of a calf payment scheme and today’s announcement certainly delivers this. Together with the movement for dairy traits, and the increased overall funding, the message is positive. We do, however, question the balance which is proposed between hill and low ground areas.

“The lamb payment initiative, which has come as a welcome surprise, demonstrates the importance of retaining critical mass within the sector as well as keeping flocks and production on land which is not suited to alternative uses. How these payments are executed, however, may prove problematic.

“We find the labour payment trigger to be quite ingenious; again targeted at production activity. Here again, agreeing the necessary procedures will no doubt prove challenging but should be well worth the effort. We also welcome
the initiative to bring ‘new entrants’ into the subsidy system.

“We will, of course, work closely with government and other industry bodies to ensure today’s report is subjected to full examination by those at the sharp end of producing Scotland’s food. We are all looking for solutions which will deliver increased supplies of quality meat in a way which is fair to those who are working hard within our industry, from plate to consumer. In that context, we wish to record our considerable appreciation to the Pack Committee for their work, despite the reservations we have expressed.”

Full details of the Pack Inquiry final report are available on the Scottish Government website. Click here and follow the site directions.