Action not words needed to tackle farm output stagnation
Tackling the stagnation of Scottish farm productivity needs prompt action, not more words or further industry analysis, says the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).
“The Royal Highland Show has often been the launch-pad for new farming initiatives but this week’s event needs instead to be a dynamic launch-pad for decisive and positive action,” said SAMW President, Frank Clark.
“The recently published agricultural champions report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, said it all in terms of where we currently are as an industry and where we need to get to over the next five to 10 years to secure a sustainable and profitable future for all parts of the supply chain. It also acknowledged that we’ve had too many reports in the past which have contained excellent recommendations but which haven’t always been actioned. As we hurtle towards an uncertain post-Brexit world we simply can’t afford to make the same mistakes again.”
SAMW has been calling for government action to arrest the decline in livestock numbers for a number of years but still with no sign of any sustained improvement in output.
“Thankfully, the ag-champs report hit this issue head-on, using the word ‘stagnation’ to describe the current state of Scottish farm productivity,” said Mr Clark. “It also called for a mind-set change across Scottish agriculture with future funding being targeted to produce results in a progressive, entrepreneurial and resilient manner.
“In addition, dealing specifically with farm output stagnation, the ag-champs said that future income support measures should include headage payments, where appropriate, alongside a major new focus on policies and schemes to support production efficiency. Cutting current levels of wastage due to avoidable animal diseases and production inefficiency was also rightly highlighted as areas which can and should improve.
“Another quote from the report, stated that ‘this time the Scottish Government, with potentially fewer restrictions on its actions in future, has the opportunity to take forward our recommendations and, working with the industry, make a real difference’.
“We could spend a lot more time discussing the details of all this, of course, including who might win and who might lose as a result. For once, however, let’s just get on with it.
“SAMW certainly agrees with that sentiment. We are at pivotal stage for our industry and Ministers and policy makers must grasp the nettle with both hands. As a result, the 2018 Royal Highland Show will hopefully go down in history as the turning point when Scottish livestock production started to grow again. However, if that doesn’t happen, and the stagnation of our flagship livestock sector is allowed go unchecked, we could be looking at the Ingliston showground hosting a much smaller gathering in future years.”