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Industry letter to Edinburgh University

Food, farming, research and business leaders, including SAMW President, Andy McGowan, have put their name to a letter to Edinburgh University, following the recent defeated motion to ban beef products being sold at the university.

Dated 19 February 2020, the letter read:

Dear Professor Mathieson, Mr Wilson and Ms Silverstein,

As bodies supporting the Scottish agricultural and red meat industry, we are writing with regard to the recent motion to cease the sale of all beef products in Edinburgh University Student’s Association cafes and restaurants.

Whilst the result of the vote was against the motion (58%), we feel this is an opportune moment to highlight some of the many positive environmental credentials which underpin Scottish red meat production, which is globally renowned for its high standards of animal welfare.

It is vital to note that Scotland’s sustainable livestock production systems differ to elsewhere in the world. We have an abundant, natural fresh water supply and produce quality beef from the grass and rough grazing which make up around 80% of Scotland’s agricultural land. This area is not suitable for cereal, fruit or vegetable production and thus couldn’t support a notable switch to plant-based diets. Scotland’s grassland also acts as a carbon sink and grazing animals provide habitats for wildlife and help to maintain the landscape.

As an industry, we work hard to communicate these facts to consumers. We also advocate that anyone wanting to play their part in helping our planet amid the current climate change emergency should buy locally sourced products, such as Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, which have been reared to some of the highest and environmentally sustainable standards in the world.

If any Edinburgh University staff or students would like to visit a farm to better understand Scottish livestock production, please do not hesitate to contact Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

We would be grateful if this letter could be shared with all students.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS)
Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive, SRUC
Katie Dubarry, Vice President, SRUC Students Association
Sarah Whitelaw, Veterinary Student, Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies
John McCulloch, HND Agriculture Student, SRUC Edinburgh Campus
James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food & Drink
Alan Laidlaw, Chief Executive, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Scott Walker, Chief Executive, NFU Scotland
Penny Montgomerie, Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs
Sarah-Jane Laing, Chief Executive, Scottish Land and Estates
Andy McGowan, President, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers
Ken Fletcher, Editor, The Scottish Farmer
Katrina Barclay, Executive Officer, Royal Highland Education Trust