A communication gulf between Scottish livestock auctioneers and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) was exposed yesterday when a leading auctioneer said his sector and many beef and sheep farmers feel detached from the promotional body’s efforts.
At an Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland conference in Edinburgh, the body’s president Scott Donaldson said QMS should engage more with auctioneers.
“If the auction system and our employees and customers were getting the message from us that QMS was a worthwhile organisation doing a lot for their industry, that would surely be good for them (QMS) but I don’t feel that’s the case at the minute,” he said.
“We need to be pulling in the same direction, and we deal with a lot of people every day, all across the country in varying sizes of businesses and diversities. We can do a lot of good for the promotion of Scottish produce by having a better dialogue. But the truth is, when you speak to farming customers on the ground, they don’t have a great deal that’s good to say about QMS.”
Mr Donaldson said that, despite Scotland’s livestock auctioneers marketing an estimated 60-70% of lambs and breeding sheep and around 60% of store calves born in Scotland, they had no voice on the board.
“If you read any literature from QMS, I can’t remember reading anything about auction marts and livestock marts, yet we’re all part of the same industry. We’re missing a trick by not speaking to each other more,” he said.
“They don’t appreciate what we’re worth to our customers in the Highlands, west coast and hill areas – these farmers feel detached from QMS too.”
Mr Donaldson said he had discussed the issue with QMS chief executive Alan Clark and new chairwoman Kate Rowell.
He added: “From their point of view the door’s open, but we need to develop more of a dialogue.”
QMS head of industry engagement Douglas Bell was at the event and said his organisation would address the issues raised.