SAMW demands action to support livestock production
The Scottish red meat industry is operating 20% below capacity, according to the president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), as he called on the government to support CAP reform to promote livestock production.
Speaking at the Royal Highland Show today (21 June), SAMW president Alan McNaughton said the industry had the capacity to be a bigger player on the international scene, but that lack of livestock was holding it back, putting jobs and businesses at risk, and damaging its ability to deliver a boost to the Scottish economy.
He said that the SAMW’s member businesses provided direct employment for over 4,000 people and generated a national income in excess of £1bn a year. However, he argued that with the right incentives for producers, the right backing from the Scottish Government and the right conclusion to CAP reform, the industry could pump closer to £1.25bn into the Scottish economy, which would also boost jobs and export earnings.
He called on the Scottish government to argue for increased support for livestock production as part of CAP reform, saying that currently there are 20% too few cattle and 30% too few sheep.
He said: “Our plea today is for the Scottish Government to stand tall in London and Brussels and demand an increase in the coupled calf scheme support to a minimum 10% of the available national budget,
Stressing that the 10% was a bare minimum to keep up with the current level, he added: “We’ve all talked long and hard about getting to 10% support as a wonderful and triumphant goal when, in reality, it’s the minimum we need to keep our combined £1bn industry and 4,000 jobs intact.
“This is the message we will shortly be pressing UK Government Ministers to address with increasing urgency. It is vital that we secure Scotland’s needs in the forthcoming CAP reform, with anything less than 10% likely to leave us with a serious decline in both business structure and jobs.
“Give us a minimum 10%, however, and a fresh window of opportunity will open for the whole Scottish meat chain.”
The NFUS has also written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman to highlight Scotland’s priorities for CAP reform, reminding her that the UK’s priorities are not uniform.
Speaking ahead of his meeting with Agriculture Minister Jim Paice at the Highland Show, NFUS president Nigel Miller said: “While priorities in other parts of the UK may lie elsewhere, Scotland needs a support package that helps us manage the transition to area-based payments, recognises the ability through targeted support to protect vulnerable sectors and also, at an early stage, give those currently locked out of support access to the schemes.
“It is vital that the foundations of stability are laid now and that the UK Government works with the EU Commission to develop a package to provide Scottish producers with confidence. We want to work with Caroline Spelman to achieve that.”
He said it was also necessary to build a degree of contingency planning into the negotiation stance, should the CAP Reform agreement be subject to significant delay.
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