The future of the sheep industry lies in persuading more home consumption of lamb, according to the retiring chairwoman of the National Sheep Association (NSA).
Sybil MacPherson was addressing the annual meeting of the organisation yesterday when she said that the next two years were critical for the industry.
We have to do more to get people eating more lambSybil MacPherson
The recent export trade had been good, she said but this was largely due to favourable exchange rates and this could not be counted on in the future.
She related how lamb tasting at last year’s Highland Show had opened her eyes to the large percentage of the population who did not buy or eat lamb. “We have to do more to get people eating more lamb,” she stated to her apprecative audience.
MacPherson also stressed the importance of the sheep industry keeping in close touch with politicians as farming policy changes with Brexit. She wanted to see farmers sitting round the table with the politicians as future policy was hammered out.
Having extended an invitation to Fergus Ewing, the rural economy secretary, to come on to a working sheep farm, MacPherson said she hoped her successor would soon be hosting such a visit.
George Milne, the NSA development officer, said there was an urgent need for the Scottish Government to employ trade negotiators to ensure the red meat industry was not neglected in all the various new trade negotiations that will take place in the coming months and years.
“We need to make a start because there is a whole load of work to do,” he stressed after pointing out that 96 per cent of all lamb exported from the UK went to EU countries.
Pointing to one possibility, Milne said he believed the United States could be a purchaser of lamb. No trade deal was necessary, he pointed out.
The new chairman of the NSA is John Fyall Sittyton, Newmacher. The NSA showed a net profit of £27,300 on a turnover of £174,730.