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Support to Address Declining Livestock Numbers

by 5m Editor
8 September 2008, at 10:08am

SCOTLAND - Quality Meat Scotland has called for future changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to address the financial pressures and demands placed on the red meat sector as well as growing national and international concerns about food security.

In its response to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on the Future Implementation of the CAP in Scotland, QMS has highlighted major concerns at the continuing decline* in Scottish beef cow and breeding ewe numbers since decoupling.

The red meat promotion and development body believes that the retention of targeted support for the livestock sector is essential if the downward trend is to be reversed and Article 68 offers some capacity to do that. It also calls for any future area payment scheme to reflect the productive capacity of the land farmed and be paid to active farmers.

QMS Chairman Donald Biggar said: “The figures tell the story. Since 2004 suckler cow numbers in Scotland have dropped by 6%, despite the existence of the calf scheme, and our breeding ewes are down 7%. Farmers are putting off their suckler cows and breeding ewes because they can no longer make a decent living from producing livestock.

“Our annual analysis of business profitability reveals that even the most technically efficient producers in Scotland find it near impossible to return a profit without an element of support.

“It’s not just the farmers who are suffering, falling livestock numbers impact negatively on the whole of the Scottish red meat sector. From the processors who can’t get enough raw material to keep their plants operating efficiently, to the auction markets and hauliers who depend on a buoyant livestock sector for their own profitability.

“Although we have concerns about the mechanism to fund Article 68, we believe it offers some capacity to target support to the livestock industry. It has a role to play in the wider portfolio of support available through the CAP and the rural development programme.”

5m Editor