Crunch time for Scottish meat industry

Crunch time for Scottish meat industry

A huge amount of time and effort has been invested in the past 12 months in an attempt to create a strong platform for Scotland’s meat industry, setting up 2015 as a ‘crunch year’ for many food and farming businesses says the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

“The unveiling of Scotland’s Beef 2020 plan and the final settlement of CAP Reform will always mark 2014 as a significant year in the continued development of the country’s meat product ambitions,” said Alan McNaughton, SAMW president. “The lasting value of the past year’s work, however, will only really be revealed once we see how primary production numbers work out in 2015 and beyond.

“As a processing sector, we’ve been looking for an upturn in raw material supplies for at least the last five years, with the need for an injection of confidence growing ever more urgent as each year passes.  In now labelling 2015 as a ‘crunch year’ for the industry, therefore, I’m particularly conscious of the fact that Scottish farming’s lobbyists and negotiators, including SAMW, definitely gave it their best shot in 2014 and are now looking for a positive production response going forward.

“Of course, we would all have liked a better deal for the nation’s livestock sector, with the delivery of greater production incentives to match Scotland’s undoubted market potential, both at home and abroad. The reality of today’s position, however, is that we do now have a solidly-funded 2020 package to work with, clear beef efficiency rewards to pursue and a government commitment to keep working with us as the new programme develops.  These are valuable 2014 achievements and a clear advance on where we were 12 months ago.

“Part of this ‘working with us’ promise, of course, must include helping to ensure producers don’t end up with a 17-month CAP payments gap to endure, during the switch from SPS to BPS. Despite the one-off nature of this move, a prolonged delay between payments would create the risk of damage being done to the industry’s future production capacity. We appreciate the Scottish Government’s assurances regarding the new payment programme and would merely add that success on this issue will have far-reaching benefits for the whole industry.

“Once market outlets are lost, for whatever reason, the rebuilding process often proves extremely difficult due to damaged buyer confidence, reduction of essential infrastructure and the inevitable reality that someone else will no doubt have stepped in to fill the gap. We cannot and must not allow that to happen to Scotland’s livestock sector.”

Food Standards Scotland

Mr McNaughton also commented on the recent appointment of Ross Finnie as the first Chair of Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and Geoff Ogle as the new body’s Chief Executive.

“We welcome both appointments and look forward to the launch of FSS in 2015,” said the president. “Having worked closely with both Mr Finnie and Mr Ogle in the past, we value the background and industry understanding they will bring to the shaping of this new and important organisation.

“FSS has been a long time in the making, of course, a process of development which in itself tends to raise expectations for all concerned.  For our part, therefore, SAMW’s member companies are looking forward to establishing a level of working partnership with FSS which hasn’t always been true of its predecessor body.  As with the creation of a stronger platform for primary livestock production in Scotland in 2015, we hope the detailed planning and preparation which has gone into shaping FSS will deliver a strong, efficient and cost-effective platform for meat processing and product distribution in 2015 and beyond.”

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