President's Blog - 19 November 2019

There’s never been a more important time to promote our industry and the positive credentials of what we do writes President Andrew McCornick.

We produce top quality food to the highest environmental and welfare standards.

Scottish beef and lamb production utilises our natural ability to grow grass, and our high rainfall means that Scottish agriculture has more than enough available water to feed our stock and water our crops.

But there is growing frustration that these facts aren’t well enough promoted in the media and even the most mainstream news sources seem to be losing any semblance of balance when it comes to this key issue.

If shoppers care about sustainable production and the circular economy, then the sensible option is to buy locally and seasonally as often as possible which will, in turn, support the local economy and reduce food miles.  

Otherwise, we are at risk of losing all the environmental and social benefits of Scottish food production in exchange for increased imports and further commoditisation of our food.

NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee decided at its October meeting to seek increased promotion of Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI through a modest increase in the producer levy.

The committee agreed it would only favour the increase if it could be match funded by the Scottish Government, to ensure that the money has greater impact to generate promotional activity.  Any increase must be ring-fenced to marketing and promotion.

We are currently talking with the National Sheep Association in Scotland and the Scottish Beef Association about proposals for an increase and we are keen to hear what more Quality Meat Scotland would be able to deliver on top of its existing and successful campaigns with a larger budget.  

It’s clear from our discussions that there’s a feeling that the livestock sector must enhance its promotion and we’d welcome support from the Scottish Government to do that.

I hope the meat processing sector also appreciate the need for increased promotion of Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, which would be achieved through an increase of the processor levy.

It has been a challenging year for the livestock sector, with estimates of Scottish beef farmgate returns down by £18.5 million from the five-year average.  Although a levy increase would a small, additional cost at a time when cashflow is as challenged, we mustn’t shy away from our responsibility to market what we produce.
The last time QMS levies were increased was 2010/11 and it’s plain to me that the need to promote Scottish cattle and sheep production has only become greater since then.  

Raising the levy would be a clear indication we are willing to help ourselves, that we are will reach deeper into our own pockets to market our product, and we clearly stand by the quality and standards around what we do.

We have a fantastic story to tell, but we need to make sure that we have the resources to tell it to the world!

Author: Andrew McCornick

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About The Author

Andrew McCornick

Andrew, who is married with three sons and a daughter, was born and brought up on a dairy farm in Wigtown. Andrew and wife Janice farm their 230+ ha unit with 160 suckler cows and 600 breeding ewes with a small herd of pedigree Charolais cattle. Andrew's sons farm a nearby tenanted unit which frequently provides replacement breeding stock for Barnbackle. For as long as Andrew can remember, he has been a member of the Union, and got more involved when the consultation for Nithsdale NVZ came out. From there he went onto become vice chairman of the Dumfries branch, and then onto his previous role of Regional Board Chairman for Dumfries and Galloway. He also sat on the LFASS committee. Andrew was elected Vice President in February 2015.

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