SIR, – An open letter sent by various agricultural bodies to some of the principles behind the recent vote at Edinburgh University to ban the supply of meat-based products throughout the campus's student association outlets.

Dear Professor Mathieson, Mr Wilson and Ms Silverstein, –

As bodies supporting the Scottish agricultural and red meat industry, we are writing with regard to the recent motion to cease the sale of all beef products in Edinburgh University Student’s Association cafes and restaurants.

Whilst the result of the vote was against the motion (58%), we feel this is an opportune moment to highlight some of the many positive environmental credentials which underpin Scottish red meat production, which is globally renowned for its high standards of animal welfare.

It is vital to note that Scotland’s sustainable livestock production systems differ to elsewhere in the world. We have an abundant, natural fresh water supply and produce quality beef from the grass and rough grazing which make up around 80% of Scotland’s agricultural land.

This area is not suitable for cereal, fruit or vegetable production and thus couldn’t support a notable switch to plant-based diets. Scotland’s grassland also acts as a carbon sink and grazing animals provide habitats for wildlife and help to maintain the landscape.

As an industry, we work hard to communicate these facts to consumers. We also advocate that anyone wanting to play their part in helping our planet amid the current climate change emergency should buy locally sourced products, such as Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, which have been reared to some of the highest and environmentally sustainable standards in the world.

If any Edinburgh University staff or students would like to visit a farm to better understand Scottish livestock production, please do not hesitate to contact Quality Meat Scotland.

We would be grateful if this letter could be shared with all students.

signed by:

Alan Clarke, chief executive, Quality Meat Scotland;

Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive, SRUC;

Katie Dubarry, vice-president, SRUC Students Association;

Sarah Whitelaw, veterinary student, Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies;

John McCulloch, HND Agriculture Student, SRUC Edinburgh Campus;

James Withers, chief executive, Scotland Food and Drink;

Alan Laidlaw, chief executive, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland;

Scott Walker, chief executive, NFU Scotland;

Penny Montgomerie, chief executive, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs;

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive, Scottish Land and Estates;

Andy McGowan, president, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers;

Ken Fletcher, editor of The Scottish Farmer;


Katrina Barclay, executive officer, Royal Highland Education Trust.