Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said:
“We are very encouraged by the Cabinet Secretary’s recognition of the vulnerability of the Scottish beef industry in the face of significant CAP reform and his adoption of a five year transition period gives the industry valuable time to adjust.
“We particularly welcome today’s announcement of a £45 million commitment by the Scottish Government to support a three year beef improvement scheme. This was one of the initial recommendations of the Beef 2020 group and its adoption will support more efficient beef production and help to underpin the long-term quality of Scotch Beef PGI.”
Mr McLaren also acknowledged the confirmation of the continuation, with an increased budget, of the Scottish Beef Calf Scheme. Emphasising that the CAP reform process had posed a particular concern to those producers with the largest herds, accounting for the major proportion of the overall beef cattle in Scotland, he said the removal of one of the tiers of the scheme would help to buffer the impact on these producers who were potentially losing larger portions of historic payments.
The addition of a coupled support scheme for sheep targeted at the most fragile areas of the country should, Mr McLaren said, help to maintain stock numbers in these areas where sheep production plays an important role in social and economic sustainability. Likewise he said the support for new entrants could be a helpful catalyst for change in the structure of the industry.