Scottish conference debates meat industry’s future

This year’s Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) conference discussed the future of the Scottish meat industry, with new European food hygiene regulations and reform to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) at the top of the agenda.

SAMW chairman Alan McNaughton opened the ‘Foundation for Growth’ conference on 26 April 2014, attended by industry stalwarts, by reflecting on the past year for the industry: “The past 12 months have produced some gains, often as a result of lobbying by industry bodies, SAMW has played a full part in this process, working closely with others wherever common ground could be identified.”

New European food standards regulations were brought into question by Elspeth Macdonald, assistant Scottish director at the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Referring to possible amendments to meat plant inspections, which would see an increased veterinary presence throughout post-mortem inspection of meat, Macdonald said: “This represents an additional level of bureaucracy, which could end up restricting the current use of plant inspection assistants, raising cost to businesses and retail costumers without any added protection to health.”

Speaking about the recent CAP reform, McNaughton said further work needed to be done: “CAP reform is both one of our greatest areas of recent success and a continuing source of total frustration. On the plus side, the CAP deal for Scottish farmers looks a whole lot better from a meat production perspective than it did when the first figures began to emerge. Moving calf coupled payments from 5% to 8% is clearly a significant step forward. Where our frustration kicks in, however, is that we should have been talking about an ever greater advance – maybe up to 13%.”

McNaughton continued: “As an industry, we must keep fighting for further concessions from government while, at the same time, making it clear to all that we believe the current CAP deal is seriously inadequate for the future of beef and lamb production in Scotland.

“The buck needs to stop with them and consumers need to be reminded, time and again, that any future meat supply, shortage and pricing issues have been made in 2013 and 2014 in Westminster and Brussels, not in the farms and meat plants in Scotland.”

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