Vice President's Blog - 8 March

Spread the word urges NFU Scotland Vice President Martin Kennedy.

Consuming locally produced lamb delivers health benefits, maintains local communities and economies and reduces the need to import products from other parts of the world that very often do not meet our standards both in terms of animal welfare and the environment.
And I am going to do my bit on telling the great story on Scotch lamb by committing to participating in Open Farm Sunday this year.

In a badly-needed boost for the sector, the good news this week is that Scotch Lamb PGI will now appear on school menus throughout Dundee, Angus, and Perth & Kinross following a successful pilot, backed by NFU Scotland.   This is the headline that we as farmers and crofters right across Scotland would like to see rolled out to every school in the country. 

With the help of local councillor Mike Williamson, Tayside Contracts and QMS, we instigated a pilot last year where we had some lamb dishes trialled in most of the secondary schools in Perth & Kinross and four of the key Primary schools. 

To be perfectly honest, we didn't really know how the results would turn out, and with lamb consumption decreasing we were slightly nervous, but you never know till you try. 

The results astounded all of us - nobody expected the feedback from the children to be so positive. When we visited one of the Primary schools during the pilot, the kids were very impressed with the taste. One young individual told us 'this is really good, I didn't know I liked lamb'. That said it all really.  Hearing comments like that highlights the simple fact that nowadays so many people just haven't had the opportunity to even try lamb. 

This successful pilot found the vast majority of primary and secondary school children were enjoying a variety of lamb dishes, including a lamb biryani, lasagne and kebab.  There will now be a roll out of lamb on school menus across all primary and secondary schools throughout the Tayside area. 

We have since contacted The Scottish Government to highlight how successful the pilot has been in the hope that they will try and encourage this to be taken up throughout the country. 

Not only does this tick the right box when it comes to consuming local nutritious food that contains natural protein, iron and many vitamins that we require for good health, but it also supports the local economy, and delivers a sustainable environment, by maintaining livestock on our marginal land here in Scotland, which in turn helps us to deliver on our climate change objectives by maintaining our grasslands in a carbon sequestrating state. The same also applies to cattle, with their additional benefits to biodiversity. 

We have such a good story to tell with what we are doing right now, especially given the negativity farming has attracted recently. 

This is one of the reasons that we decided to do Open Farm Sunday this year to try and help the general public understand that farming and crofting is not just about producing high quality food, it also delivers a sustainable environment. 

Author: Martin Kennedy

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About The Author

Martin Kennedy

Martin Vice President of NFU Scotland and is a tenant farmer in Highland Perthshire and farms with his wife Jane and three daughters, Jillian, Katrina and Yvonne. They have 600 ewes and 60 cows on the farm rising from 800ft to over 2,500ft. Martin served two years as Highland Perthshire branch chairman, before representing East Central region on the LFA committee in 2009. Martin then went on to be vice chairman then chaired the committee for three years. He has served as Vice President of NFUS for two years and is currently sitting on his third.

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