T. 07768 654955 E. scott.walker@scconsultancy.uk

Stability vital for Scottish cattle numbers

Maintaining Scottish livestock numbers, maximising the domestic processing of quality red meat and ensuring we have a competitive processing industry are the three top priority objectives for the next 12 months says the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

Alan Brown

“After more than 10 years of livestock numbers in Scotland steadily drifting downwards, there is an urgent need to stabilise our industry,” said SAMW President, Alan Brown.

“Losing critical mass, beyond the breeding reductions we’ve already seen, will endanger the future of the country’s meat supply and processing chain, something we cannot afford if Scotland is to retain its global status for quality red meat.

“While our long-term goal as an industry is to see growth restored to Scottish livestock production, with a recovery generating a significant boost to the Scottish economy, the place to start today is with the stabilisation of beef cow numbers. We also need to maximise the processing of Scottish livestock within Scotland, rather than exporting our quality status for processing plants elsewhere to enjoy.

“There’s an obvious self-help side to this for Scottish processors, but also for producers.  The stronger our domestic processing and wholesaling chain remains, the more we can deliver as an industry to the benefit of local breeders and finishers.

“Business is business, of course, no-matter where you sit in the supply chain, a fact which SAMW member companies fully understand. Costs have also definitely increased over the past year, not least in relation to the role played in our industry by Food Standards Scotland (FSS). We’ve been pressing FSS and the Scottish Government to address the massive rise in Official Veterinarian charges and huge uplift in Meat Hygiene Inspection costs to our members for 2024/25. This discussion is still ongoing and urgently needs to be resolved in order to ensure that Scotland remains a competitive place for doing business.

“No-matter how you look at it, to borrow a bit of language from the current General Election debates, our whole industry, farmers and processors, is clearly facing a very substantial ‘tax increase’.

“As we approach another Royal Highland Show, when the very best of Scotland’s livestock quality will be on display, the need to be realistic about the fragility of our industry has to be addressed. If we don’t arrest the recent decline in numbers, and do so quickly, then the farming shop window that the Ingliston showground represents will rapidly become a very pale imitation of its former self.”