Beef sector is vital to Scotland says Richard Lochhead

Beef sector is vital to Scotland says Richard Lochhead

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has promised the industry that beef will be at the front of the queue for the limited amount of coupled support available under the new CAP.

Describing beef production and processing as the ‘engine room of Scottish farming’, the Minister told NFU Scotland’s annual meeting in mid-February he still believed the beef sector could have a ‘big future’ despite currently being caught on the ‘horns of a dilemma’ because CAP Reform.

“I have asked DEFRA for the ability to use up to 13% coupled support (for beef in Scotland), in line with what other countries with significant livestock sectors have secured,” he said, adding that he was pleased that DEFRA Minister George Eustice seemed to be ‘open minded on this’ during his earlier address to the union meeting.

“I’ll push that door open as far as it will go,” said Mr Lochhead, “although it’s certainly a complicated picture.”

Accepting that there will be winners and losers once the CAP package is settled, including among beef producers, he said the future was all about helping farmers to be driven by the market, and then supported by CAP payments, not the other way around.

“Talking to farmers around the country I find that some are planning to expand,” he said. “But others warn they may de-stock. I am under no illusions about the challenges for our beef sector and the seriousness of what is at stake but I am confident that together we can achieve a solution which supports those who inevitably face change, keeps Scotland’s pastures in production and, crucially, sustains our production of prime beef that’s unequalled anywhere.”

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