A promise to work with the industry to reverse the decline in cattle numbers was given yesterday by Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.
Speaking as he opened the country’s biennial beef event at Oldmeldrum, he said he was extremely conscious of the challenges being faced by the sector.
He said that while he had been in discussions with the industry, he wasn’t yet in a position to make an announcement over proposed measures to help the beef sector reverse the decline in numbers.
However, speaking later, a broad hint was given that an enhanced suckler calf scheme could be one avenue under consideration for providing extra funding.
He said: “While I’m not in a position to make any announcement today, it would be logical to introduce a scheme which the industry views as being the most effective way forward.”
Indicating that giving further support to an existing scheme would be more effective than starting a new one from scratch he added: “And while I can’t say today that we are committed to such an approach, a scheme like this could be one method of providing potential support.”
Responding to the scale of recent EU support for the Irish beef sector – which had seen 100 million euros of emergency funding allocated to producers in that country by the EU and Irish government – Ewing said that he continued to press the case for increased funding for Scotland’s beef sector with the UK Government.
He said: “It is imperative that the decline in cattle production is halted and reversed, to let it continue would threaten the critical mass of the industry, with severe repercussions throughout the production chain – from abattoirs and meat processors to machinery dealers and other rural suppliers.”