CREATING a resurgence of native livestock and equine breeds in Scotland is the focus of the newly launched Rare Breeds Survival Trust manifesto.

Launched during RBST Scotland's ‘Back to the Future’ virtual conference, the Manifesto for Scotland’s Native Breeds sets out the six core actions that the new Scottish Government should take to boost the commercial, environmental and cultural benefits that native breeds can offer Scotland.

RBST vice president Scotland Martin Beard, who farms rare breeds including Large Black pigs and Portland sheep in Angus, said: “Scotland is a colossus in native breeds, from Aberdeen Angus cattle and Soay sheep to the Clydesdale horse, the Highland Pony and many more. Having evolved to be part of our landscape, these breeds are the experts in converting our native vegetation into high quality produce whilst maintaining natural habitats and enhancing biodiversity.

“But our native breeds have been taken for granted for too long and future agricultural policy in Scotland must actively support their resurgence. The Manifesto for Scotland’s Native Breeds provides a strong framework and we look forward to discussing its contents with MSP candidates across Scotland over the coming weeks and beyond.”

The six asks of the new Scottish Government are:

  • Recognise native livestock and equines as a key part of Scotland’s biodiversity and national heritage – a new agriculture policy should invest in supporting the varied environmental and cultural benefits associated with our native livestock and equines, identifying them as a key part of our biodiversity targets;
  • Encourage the creation of a comprehensive network of local abattoirs – the new Scottish Government should provide one off capital investment to help restore the local abattoir network, which is crucial to farming with rare and native breeds;
  • Revise carcase grading – the carcase grading system should be revised to recognise the quality and taste of native beef and to treat farmers who value quality over quantity fairly;
  • Abolish what remains of the Over Thirty Month (OTM) Rule – the new Scottish Government should review the Specified Risk Material control which is now outdated and acts as a needless commercial barrier to farming with native breeds of cattle, many of which could then be finished to a higher level with lower inputs;
  • Introduce honest labelling – on-pack labelling should be introduced based on pedigree records and herd books, so consumers can be sure they are choosing high quality native breed produce that supports high standards, sustainable production and breed conservation;
  • Recognise the value of rare and native breeds in Scottish agriculture – the new Scottish Government should pro-actively recognise the value of our rare and native breeds as part of the solution to the challenges facing Scottish agriculture, reflecting this recognition in policy development.

RBST chief executive Christopher Price said: “This is an exciting time for native breeds of livestock and equines, as their ability to support the natural environment is increasingly highly valued, and as the commercial opportunities for farming with native breeds continue to grow. The formation of a new Scottish Government provides a crucial opportunity for agricultural policy to better reflect the economic, environmental and cultural contribution of our native breeds.

The full Manifesto for Native Breeds is available at