Facing reducing numbers of cattle and sheep being produced, Scotland’s meat-sector leaders yesterday attempted to muscle in on any future loss of farm land to forestry.
In a letter to the director of Forestry Commission Scotland, Bob McIntosh, meat processors have sought assurances that they will be included in future consultations on tree-planting proposals if the land concerned has livestock production value.
Meat processors say their plants are operating on “crisis level” supplies of cattle and sheep, leaving no room for blanket tree planting on land more suitable for livestock farming.
The letter, signed by Ian Anderson, executive manager of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, points out that cattle and sheep output has been falling for eight years in Scotland and is now causing real difficulties for meat companies. “The impact of this on the viability of the red meat sector can be seen in recent abattoir closures and business restructuring.”
The Forestry Commission is proposing to blanket plant trees on Corniehaugh Farm, near Rothiemay. On this, Anderson states: “With the cattle breeding herd declining by 10 per cent since 2004 and the sheep breeding flock having also declined significantly, we are looking to government to secure the future of the meat and livestock sector in Scotland. Planting trees on a farm which runs 200 suckler cows will do the opposite.
“The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, National Farmers Union of Scotland, National Sheep Association, National Beef Association and Scottish Beef Cattle Association recently expressed deep concern over Forestry Commission Scotland’s plans. We would add SAMW’s voice to their call to prevent tree planting at Corniehaugh.”
The Corniehaugh farm has a particular significance for meat firm Donald Russell, as managing director Hans Baumann has pointed out the farm is used to promote Scotch Beef on its advertising material.
Meanwhile, a formal consultation is about to get underway on the planting proposal at Cornie-haugh with McIntosh promising it would involve statutory bodies, such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Aberdeenshire Council and local groups and residents.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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