LIVESTOCK farmers will have to get used to the fact that the market for draff and pot ale is no longer one of oversupply, but of competing demand for a finite resource.

That was the view of NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, who was involved this week with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association meeting with the Scottish Whisky Association to discuss concerns over the reduction in availability of distillery byproducts for animal feed.

The current shortage of what has, until now, been a valuable source of protein and a staple ingredient of animal feed for decades, has come about as a consequence of the increasing use of anaerobic digesters and biomass plants to convert byproducts into energy.

Said Mr McCornick: “The meeting in Keith was primarily set to ensure supplies were available for our livestock sector and we had guarantees offered to make this happen. The hard bit, which is the reality of this change, will be the price for draff and pot ale, and farmers are now going to take account of this.

“Other options were tabled. These included collective responsibility in encouraging forward buying or ordering; the creation of buying groups and looking at the availability of on-farm storage," he added. "None of these alter the hard, commercial reality that things have changed.”

STFA environment spokesperson and Glenlivet farmer Alastair Nairn said: “We had a constructive and positive meeting which gave us all the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of each other’s position and the requirements of our respective industries.

“We were pleased to hear the SWA express its support for the livestock industry and the importance in achieving a balance between the supply of animal feed and the demand from livestock producers.

“There was agreement that the dialogue between whisky producers and livestock farmers should be continued and expanded to include the wider supply chain, such as feed merchants," said Mr Nairn. "This would create a wider understanding of seasonal and regional fluctuations in the availability of distillery byproducts and the corresponding demand from livestock producers.

“There was also general agreement that a collaborative approach should be adopted create a more stable market and it was hoped that the Scottish Government would assist in this endeavour.”