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Union joins celebration of Scotch beef

NFU Scotland has joined in a celebration of World-famous Scotch beef, staged in Perthshire today (27 May)
 
Scotland’s Beef Event 2015, organised by the Scottish Beef Association and hosted by the Alexander family at Mains of Mause Farm near Blairgowrie saw thousands of Scottish farmers come together to celebrate the beef produced in Scotland’s hills and uplands.
 
While Scotland’s beef enjoys a justifiable reputation both at home and abroad for its quality, the recent downturn in prices has left many of those who produce the product at farm level struggling to make a margin.
 
A significant dip in prices for prime beef cattle has occurred again this year, following on from similar market problems last year.
 
That dip in prices has been compounded by a fall in demand this spring, an exchange rate that has led to more difficult export markets and greater import access and waiting lists to get cattle into abattoirs at the right weight and specification.
 
NFUS is concerned that this is becoming a cyclical pattern. To ensure its members understand the plusses and minuses of producing cattle in the spring, it will be running a number of livestock roadshows with other key stakeholders later this year which will discuss the issue.
 
Speaking from Blairgowrie, NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “There can be no finer advert for our iconic Scotch beef brand than the quality cattle and outstanding stockmanship shown by the Alexander family here in the hills of Perthshire. 
 
“Scotch beef remains the cornerstone of agricultural production in Scotland. That fact is recognised within Scottish Government and delivery of the recommendations brought forward in the recent Beef 2020 report will be a key driver.  We need the Scotch beef industry in Scotland to keep moving forward.  Standing still is not an option.
 
“However, for our beef finishers, spring 2014 and 2015 have been blighted by marketing difficulties and volatile prices.  Add in challenging exchange rates and export pressure, and the pressures on our beef sector start to mount.
 
“When some of our leading and most efficient beef finishers are struggling to make a margin at this time of year, then that needs a proper examination.
 
“Later in 2015 we will stage roadshows, with other stakeholders, to tease out whether pressure on prices during the spring are to be a permanent feature of our beef industry and what beef producers can do within their own systems and management to address that.
 
“There is nothing we can do to influence exchange rates but we will continue to work with retailers, processors and public procurement to maximise their commitment to Scottish product.  The forthcoming Highland Show will provide an excellent platform to meet supermarkets and a meeting has been requested with officials to look at how we can get more Scottish produce on the menus at schools and hospitals.
 
“Greater collaboration across the whole food chain must bring shared benefits as all elements have a common interest in the well-being of Scottish beef production. 
 
“We have a fantastic product being produced to the highest quality but we must ensure that we maximise the markets for that beef – be it high-end restaurants, supermarket shelves, butchers’ counters, catering outlets or school kitchens.”
 
For more information contact John Sleigh on 0131 472 4107 or email: john.sleigh@nfus.org.uk 
 
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 97/15


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