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Sheep sector review

Published: 31 Aug 2016 13:04

Rural Economy Secretary welcomes final report.

A 24 point action plan aimed at revitalising Scotland's sheep sector has been unveiled by an industry expert group.

The recommendations are contained in the final report of the Scottish Sheep Sector Review, which has been published today.

The report, produced by a short life industry group chaired by former UK Sheep Farmer of the Year John Scott, sets out a series of actions for the Scottish Government and the sheep industry to facilitate sustainable and long term growth.

Speaking on a visit to Castle Grant Farm, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

"Scotland is home to almost five million sheep, with the sector worth more than £200 million a year to the rural economy. However, farm revenues have fallen sharply in recent years and sheep producers rely heavily on subsidies to keep them in business.

"It is therefore crucial that Government, industry organisations and livestock producers work together to overcome the challenges the sector is facing and to make the most of market opportunities for our world class lamb.

"I very much welcome the Scottish Sheep Sector Review and would like to thank John and his team for pulling together such a comprehensive and ambitious set of recommendations aimed at delivering a profitable future for the Scottish sheep sector.

"Achieving this has the potential to benefit the Scottish sheep sector by more than £26 million per year but will require the buy-in and active participation of the entire supply chain - from farmers and crofters, to red meat processors, retail and food service suppliers and the owners and chefs of high end restaurant and hotels. I am therefore asking John to continue what he has started and lead a small team of key players in the supply chain to drive forward the implementation of these recommendations."

John Scott, Chairman of the Scottish Sheep Sector Review, said:

"It was clear to all members of the review team that while the sheep supply chain faces many challenges we also have a fantastic natural product with untapped potential for growth. This report identifies a range of actions that I believe will enable the entire sector to thrive and prosper."

Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said;

"The dedication, commitment and skills of those who work in the Scottish sheep industry is truly commendable, however, as outlined in the Review, there are opportunities which can be seized to improve efficiency and drive innovation within the sector, ensuring sustainable and profitable growth.

"We have a fantastic product in Scotch Lamb PGI which is natural, delicious and versatile and there is no doubt that in a world which is increasingly demanding quality red meat, there is an opportunity to drive consumption both at home and abroad."

Development Officer NSA Scotland, George Milne said

"The report contains a huge variety of recommendations for the whole supply chain, but specifically a range of options to suit all types of our stratified sheep production system. Farmers have the opportunity to investigate recommendations that may suit or bring the best possible results for their own particular farming business. Other recommendations require an approach at a national level which should help the whole industry to become more profitable".