SAMW warns MPs over CAP reform

The prospect for Scottish meat production is “far from rosy” unless there is intervention to boost livestock supply, the president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has warned MPs.

In a letter to Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, SAMW president Alan McNaughton said there was widespread concern in rural communities over the potential effect of CAP reform in Scotland and that action needed to be taken.

He said: “Without the right interventions at the right times, the prospect is very far from rosy. A ‘no change’ scenario will, at best, show some very small sign of recovery two years from now. However, this would be more than offset by the year-on-year decline in heifer numbers over the same period. This is precisely why we believe strongly that new support measures for calf production and, possibly, lamb production are absolutely crucial to the future of one of Scotland’s finest and most important industries and the communities which depend on it.

SAMW and Quality Meat Scotland are undertaking deep analysis of the current livestock supply situation and what it illustrates for future prospects.

McNaughton urged the minister to “act in the best interests of Scottish agriculture”, arguing that the nation must be treated differently from the rest of the UK in the forthcoming discussions over CAP due to its different agricultural make-up.

He pointed out that:
• 85% of Scotland is categorised as a Less Favoured Area (LFA), compared to 16% in and 81% in Wales;
• Grassland and rough grazing forms 79% of the Scottish agricultural land, opposed to an overall UK figure of 61%;
• Scotland has a higher proportion of beef breeding cows compared to dairy. Beef breeds account for 72% of the breeding herd in Scotland compared to 40% in England or 46% in Wales;
• The proportion of calves sired by a beef bull in Scotland is 83%, compared to 63% in England or 66% in Wales;
• The percentage of total agricultural output in Scotland from beef production is 24% and from sheep production is 10%. In the UK 14% is from beef and 6% from sheep;
• The average suckler herd in Scotland is 49 cows and the average ewe flock is 262 ewes. In the UK the average is 27 cows and 215 ewes;
• The average Pillar 1 payment in Scotland is €130 per hectare compared with a €229 average in the rest of the UK and an EU average of €268. In each case the Scottish figure is only 48% of that received elsewhere in Europe.

McNaughton acknowledged that coupled payments for Scottish beef calves exist under the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme, but pointed out that current payments account for less than 1% of the available UK budget for coupled payments.

He said: “To continue to suggest that traditional market conditions will deliver sustainable food production in the vulnerable regions of the UK is naive to say the least. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to ensure that Scotland’s needs are met in the forthcoming EU negotiations.”

The letter was copied to Defra Minister Owen Paterson, Scottish MEP George Lyon, and Scottish Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead.

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