A new video launched by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) this week is highlighting the pride Scottish farmers take in membership of the industry’s quality assurance schemes.
The video, which has already been viewed more than 22,000 times on the QMS Facebook page, features three Scottish cattle farmers giving their views on the benefits of quality assurance to the beef industry in Scotland, and to their own farming businesses.
The farmers are Neil McCorkindale who runs 70 cows at Scammadale Farm near Oban; Leslie King who finishes around 150 cattle at Cairnfauld near Banchory and Andrew Kay who runs 170 cows based at The Gass Farm in Ayrshire.
The “Pride in Quality Assurance” video shows the producers working on their farms and talking about the importance of quality assurance to provide the public with confidence about how animals are reared and the importance of animal welfare.
The farmers also describe their personal pride in being part of the world-acclaimed Scotch Beef brand. They highlight the benefits of quality assurance in terms of achieving the best returns for their animals and maximising their number of potential buyers.
The video also sees the farmers urging non-members to consider the importance of quality assurance to the industry’s future. In response to industry feedback, QMS launched a major recruitment drive at the start of 2015 to increase the membership of the Cattle and Sheep quality assurance scheme and during the first eight months of 2015 more than 400 applications were received.
The video is part of a range of activities being undertaken to tie in with the 25th anniversary of the quality assurance schemes which underpin the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands. Scotland’s quality assurance schemes are among the longest-running in the world, with the Scots global pioneers of the quality assurance concept first introduced here in 1990.
Currently, over 90% of Scotland’s breeding cattle population and 80% of the breeding sheep flock are born on farms covered by quality assurance, along with almost 100% of significant pig farming businesses.
Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS, said he hoped the video would prove a helpful reminder of the many reasons to take a pride in the quality assurance schemes. “Whether you are a farmer, haulier, feed company, auction market operator or a processor, it is vital to the future of these businesses and our industry that everyone is united in support of our whole chain quality assurance,” said Mr McLaren.
Mr McLaren also highlighted the importance of the quality assurance standards in maintaining the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status of Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb which is hugely significant when accessing support from the European Commission, such as the €1.2 million (£861,000) QMS confirmed it had secured earlier this year.
Quality assurance scheme membership is open to farms of all sizes – from large finishing units to much smaller businesses with a few animals. The membership fee varies and discounts are available for crofting groups and those who combine assessments with those for other schemes.
A significant project, initiated last October, to upgrade the software used to check the quality assurance status of cattle, is now approaching completion. A successful test phase of the new system is underway with very positive feedback from the farmers, auctioneers and processors involved. The new cattle checker is being launched this month– providing buyers and sellers of cattle with a smart tool for checking the Scotch potential eligibility of cattle. It will be available as a web-based application and also as a smart phone app.
Farmers who would like more information on joining the QMS Quality Assurance schemes should contact Acoura (the new name for SFQC) on email@example.com or call 0131 335 6602. Information is also available on the QMS website at www.qmscotland.co.uk