The Scottish beef industry was discussing ’radical’ solutions at a Government-sponsored Beef Summit at Stirling
A producer organisation (PO) involving all the large-scale cattle finishers in Scotland might become a reality as the beef industry struggles to cope with this summer’s dramatic slump in prices.
The idea of creating such an organisation, effectively a supercharged marketing co-operative, was aired at a Government-sponsored Beef Summit at Stirling on Monday and found a surprising number of supporters among farmers and processors.
With all the members of the PO committed to market 100 per cent of their produce through the organisation, it would be a radical departure from the current situation.
But desperate times demand desperate measures and with prime cattle worth about £200 per head less than they were 12 months ago, minds at the Stirling meeting were concentrated on finding some solutions.
Fergus Ewing, Scottish Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary, who chaired the meeting, said afterwards: “Only collective action by all parties will sustain the livestock industry. It will need a package of methods and Government agencies must play their part. But it is not for Government to come up with all the answers.”
Mr Ewing admitted the formation of a PO had been discussed at the closed meeting but ‘not described in detail’.
It is known the idea has been discussed by the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) and is high on the organisation’s list of possible measures.
After the Stirling meeting, SAMW president Andy McGowan said he could see the merit for all sides of being able to control the flow of livestock through abattoirs.
NFU Scotland has also put the formation of a more powerful marketing organisation at the top of a list of six measures which could relieve the crisis.
It is an idea which has been widely promoted by former NFU Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland chairman Jim Walker.
“It is up to farmers to decide if they want to carry on being victims. It is worth a try because things could not be worse than they are,” he said.