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Beef blueprint launched

WITH CONCERN growing over Scotland's dwindling beef cow numbers, NFU Scotland this week launched a draft 'beef blueprint' aimed at getting the sector back into shape.

The blueprint – backed by cross country roadshows – offers a comprehensive list of measures designed to maintain production, improve on-farm efficiency, build on animal health and preserve and protect Scotch beef's reputation as a premium brand.

Roadshows were held in Dingwall, Oldmeldrum, Perth, and Lanark this week, and will continue till the final fixture in Lauder on December 11.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, NFUS president Nigel Miller said: "At farm level, calf registrations are up and prices are up but future long-term prospects are still on the edge. This blueprint is all about how we can ensure our beef industry remains the cornerstone of Scottish farming in the years ahead.

"Scotch beef is a world-recognised brand – it is valued by consumers as a mark of quality and is delivering a premium of 20 to 30p per kilo back to the industry. That is something worth protecting but we will only do that if we collaborate as a Scottish industry and keep control of our brand.

"The threats are all too apparent. We have been losing critical mass and our cow numbers are down 20% on 1997. At processor level, where there is a huge push to maintain throughput, 175 of cattle going through Scottish abattoirs are now from England or Northern Ireland," noted Mr Miller.

"We need a blueprint that will help build cow numbers and sustain beef production in Scotland in the long run. We need to help herds with their profitability and efficiency, provide our plants with the right kind of animals to optimise processing and have a system in place that feeds information on carcase quality, meat eating quality and animal health back to the farmgate.

"Improving communication between the consumer, the processor, the market and the producer will be key to the future well-being and development of the Scotch beef brand," he added.

"These meetings will start to establish what we need in our beef blueprint and how we translate those ideas into action that works for those rearing or finishing beef cattle in Scotland."

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