Cattle numbers in Scotland 'critical'

The Scottish meat industry is close to losing "critical mass" in cattle stocks, according to the president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

Allan Jess told delegates at the SAMW annual conference that supplies were worryingly low. "We are gravely concerned at the present situation," he said.

He added that sheep numbers were down 13.3%, pigs down 22% and cattle 6.9%, which he described as "frightening".

"We're extremely close to losing critical mass," he said. "In fact, whatever happens to prices in the short term, there can only be one conclusion - namely, the eventual reduction of processing facilities and the scaling down of Scotland's livestock industry."

He also attacked the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS). "The FSA and MHS are not fit for purpose in Scotland and not worth the huge amount of industry and taxpayers' money."

Brian Pack, retiring head of the ANM Group, suggested his own answer to MHS charging: "I do wonder if the time is not right for some civil disobedience, in that the industry will decide what its willing to pay, and not pay more."

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