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Certainty, collaboration and respect needed for Scotland’s red meat industry

The pressing need for certainty, collaboration and respect top the 2019 wish list for Scotland’s red meat industry says the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

“It’s now two-and-a-half years on from the-Brexit referendum yet our industry is still in urgent need of clarity as we head into the New Year,” said SAMW President, Frank Clark, speaking on behalf of member businesses whose commitment to the country’s red meat sector underpins trading activities worth £2 billion and the direct employment of 3000 workers.

“Our industry desperately needs a return to political and business certainty, a requirement we share, of course, with all the other sectors of the Scottish economy. However, with such clarity currently seeming to be as far away as ever, 2019 looks set to be another extremely challenging year.

“Thankfully, the fundamentals of our industry remain as solid and reliable as ever. They just need to be given the necessary freedom and support to generate meaningful commercial returns, which will also benefit the rural Scottish economy.

“The basic facts are simple enough. Member businesses source high quality beef, lamb and pork from many excellent Scottish farms, run according to the highest possible levels of traditional breeding and finishing standards, with livestock managed in line with the high health and welfare requirement laid down in Quality Meat Scotland’s world leading assurance standards. This is a production and processing supply chain of which we can all be proud.

“Once processed and packaged, our industry’s products are promoted and marketed strongly within Scotland, sold throughout the rest of the UK and exported around the world. This is also a sales chain and global reputation of which was can all be proud.

“Scottish red meat definitely punches above its weight in all these markets and our desire for 2019 is to be given the platform and freedom to build on this success by extending our reach into new markets at home and abroad.

“While the delivery of future political and business clarity ultimately rests with the politicians in Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels, it is encouraging to note that collaboration between the different parts of Scotland’s red meat supply chain has strengthened over the past 12 months. Joint action, for example, has taken place this year that supports the industry’s long-running ambition for an increase in livestock numbers, most recently in relation to clearing the way for more quality beef for be drawn from the Scottish dairy herd.

“In addition, other joint initiatives are in the pipeline for action in 2019, all designed to make Scotland’s red meat sector stronger and fitter for the future, when the political clouds finally clear and we have a sure way forward for our industry and the broader rural economy.

“Another hope for 2019 is that we will see more respect and recognition given to the producers and businesses whose every day efforts have built Scotland’s red meat industry’s status into the global standing that we now enjoy.

“Regrettably the past year has seen a noticeable rise in the amount of attention given to the anti-meat lobby groups, with the quality of our products and the honest commitment of ordinary hard working farmers and processors often being unfairly portrayed. Everyone has a right to make their own lifestyle choices, of course, including whether or not to eat meat.  But what irks us as an industry is when anti-meat lobbyists put forward arguments and so called facts which do not have any independent evidence to underpin their claims.

“That is why we as an industry appreciate and applaud the good work done by Quality Meat Scotland and others who apply sound scientific facts and figures to counter these unfair attacks on our industry. I repeat, we have an industry of which we can all be proud and one which has a strong future.”