31st March 2015

Beefing up the Herd

A scheme to equip Scotland’s farmers to improve the efficiency, sustainability and quality of their beef herds is to be introduced ahead of next year’s calving season.

It will include a national livestock database and support for farmers to identify the key actions they are going to take on-farm including measures to improve cow fertility, reduce disease, optimise nutrition through feed analysis, and maximise grass and soil management.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced the move as he confirmed the Scottish Government has accepted the recommendations of the Beef 2020 industry expert group, which was chaired by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren.

The cattle database will be backed by the £45 million Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) beef support package announced by the Rural Affairs Secretary last year.

Subject to EU approval of the detail, £40 million of that funding will be enable beef farmers to collect genetic and herd management information to inform future breeding decisions. Much of the remainder will be spent expanding the ScotEID database system to interface with other cattle data sources such as markets and abattoirs.

On a visit to a cattle sale at the ANM Thainstone Centre in Inverurie, Mr Lochhead said: “Beef is the jewel in Scotland’s agricultural crown. It is our single biggest farming sector and makes up more than a quarter of Scottish agricultural output. This extra support from the Scottish Government will give the beef sector the opportunity to adapt and prosper as the full impact of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regime takes effect.

“It is therefore vital that government, industry organisations and beef producers work together to energise the sector and deliver the Beef 2020 vision of sustainable and long term growth.

“I am delighted to announce that the Scottish Government will play a full part in taking this forward, and to confirm our plans for the new £45 million Scottish Rural Development Programme beef efficiency scheme. This is a significant investment and commitment to the beef sector given the notoriously inadequate share of the CAP budget handed to Scotland.”

Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, warmly welcomed the Cabinet Secretary’s broad acceptance of the Report’s recommendations and confirmed he is to lead a group to oversee their implementation.

He said: “The recommendations in the Beef 2020 Report are the ‘progeny’ of the deliberations of a Scottish beef industry-wide group, established on Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead’s request in 2014.

“The implementation of these recommendations will present a fantastic opportunity for the beef industry in Scotland to move forward with confidence. The adoption of these measures will strengthen our industry’s resilience to the wide range of factors, many outwith our control, which influence the beef market.

“Importantly, the increased technical efficiency which will be delivered will also allow Scottish beef producers to further reduce waste and improve our industry’s environmental credentials.”

a copy of the final Beef 2020 report can be found on the right hand side of this page


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