Balance Needed in Food Versus Energy Debate

Scottish industry representatives have called on the Scottish Government to ensure a balanced approach is taken to policies promoting bio-energy and emission reduction, to ensure they do not impact on other priorities such as food production.

In a letter to Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, signed by NFU Scotland, National Beef Association (Scotland), Scottish Beef Cattle Association, Scottish Dairy Cattle Association and Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers Scotland, the livestock sector urges government to reassess the status of distillery by-products in view of their strategic value as a high value protein source for livestock rations.

The initiative, developed in partnership with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, seeks a balancing of policy to ensure renewable energy incentives do not compromise the availability of an indigenous high protein feed.

President of NFU Scotland, Nigel Miller, said:

“Several distilleries around Scotland have already invested in plants that use distillery by-products such as draff to create energy, and more bioenergy proposals are in the pipeline.  That has created concerns amongst livestock producers over the availability of such products in the future.  

“Scotland has a unique asset in a world class drinks sector that not only adds value to a significant percentage of our cereal production but offers distillery by-products that are a key and cost-effective part of ruminant livestock nutrition on many Scottish farms.  

“Europe is a major importer of protein for animal production but in Scotland the high protein levels of pot ale syrup, draff and dark grains provide a valuable local source while also adding energy and digestibility to the rations of cattle and sheep. As such, distillery by-products are a cost effective, locally produced feed that optimises the performance of Scottish livestock systems. With many distilleries located in disadvantaged areas, such by-products are a key part of maintaining sustainable livestock production and communities in Scotland’s hills and Islands.

“However, meeting climate change targets have meant there are now incentives to use draff to create energy rather than animal feed.  Instead, carbon accounting at distillery, plant or processor level must be designed to credit and recognise the value attached to the continued supply of animal feed. The climate change value of by-products as a protein source must be assessed against that of draff for bio-energy.”


Contact Wendy Fleming on 0131 472 4020


Date Published:

News Article No.: 153/11

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