A parting of the ways

Scottish members of the NBA sets up breakaway group


A rift has opened between The National Beef Association and Scottish farmers. The NBA's Scottish members have broken away and set up a new organisation, the Scottish Cattle Association, which will be operational from the end of June. NBA chiefs branded the decision as "selfish".

Relations between the Scottish region and the NBA have been strained over the past year.

Pat Lambert, the Scottish representative and current chairman of the Scottish Council at the beginning of the week, claimed the cattle industry north of the border would be better served by its own organisation.

"We have tried many times to come to some sort of understanding with the NBA, but the decision has now been made by our council at a recent meeting in Perth that we will do our own thing. That was based on a secret ballot where we received 82% support from those in attendance and messages from others who were unable to attend saying that they favoured a new approach. "If the NBA had allowed us to be affiliated with it and in line with Scottish requirements we would have been happy, as it is, one cap doesn't fit all. We gave it a lot of funding and got very little back in return. The problem is that the NBA is not democratically run and has become a one person organisation and that is unhealthy. The views should be formed by the members and not paid employees," he said.

The Scottish Cattle Association intends to "walk before it considers running", according to Lambert.

"We will start with a part-time secretary and endeavour to build up a substantial membership. There are people who will ask why the farming industry needs another organisation. But while we recognise that NFU Scotland does an excellent job, there are specialist issues that stretch its resources and time. We feel we can work well with NFUS."

Robert Forster, NBA chief executive, told the Journal: "The decision by the rebel members to declare their wish to form a Scottish Cattle Association confirms their pursuit of a selfish agenda that began in April 2005.

"The NBA does not feel in any way cowed by the threat to form a Scottish cattle association. With the rebel group no longer able to frustrate its work and undermine its structures, the NBA is confident that its Scottish membership will quickly expand as it has representation in London, Scotland and Brussels."

NFU Scotland said it looked forward to working with the new Scottish group. "There is a huge amount of work ahead for the beef industry, so close co-ordination amongst all interested bodies is vital. In particular, I hope they are able to support NFUS efforts to tackle the imbalance of power in the supply chain and our campaign to put commonsense back into regulation. Prices and red tape are huge issues for beef producers up and down the country and it requires a united effort from the industry to tackle them."

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