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Livestock numbers increase

Published: 15 Mar 2016 09:39

Rise in cattle positive says Rural Affairs Secretary.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has welcomed indications that Scotland's livestock numbers are on the rise again, following an official survey published today.

Mr Lochhead made his comments following the publication of the December 2015 Agricultural Survey.

He said:

"The overall rise in livestock, including the increase in beef cattle, dairy cows, poultry, sheep and pigs, is very encouraging following a decline in many of these in 2014.

"The Scottish Government's coupled support schemes are designed to halt the decline in livestock numbers and I am pleased to see this appears to be generating confidence in the sector, with the increase this year. We are on schedule to begin this year's payments under the beef scheme in April – the same time as last year – so I am hopeful this upward trend will continue.

"Today's publication also notes an increase in the number of dairy cows across Scotland, which is positive and allows us to look at added value dairy products – news from the Agriculture Council in Brussels yesterday indicates there will be increased support across Europe for the promotion of dairy and pigment products, as well as raised intervention ceilings for skimmed milk powder and butter, which can help stabilise prices at a time when the market is oversupplied. There will be a meeting with the dairy industry this afternoon which will discuss the current issues affecting the sector and look at ways in which the Scottish Government can help the industry during these difficult times.

"The application window for the Single Application Form (SAF) also opens online today, and I would urge all farmers and crofters to get their applications in as soon as possible before the window closes on Monday, May 16."

Notes to editors

The online system for SAF applications will be live from 0001 on March 15. Customers who applied online last year will be able to access their accounts from that time. Those who applied using paper forms last year can expect pre-populated forms to be mailed out to them shortly.