A 24 point action plan aimed at revitalising Scotland’s sheep sector has been unveiled by an industry expert group.
Recommendations have been put in place as part of the Scottish Sheep Sector review, which was published today (Thursday September 1).
John Scott, chairman of the Scottish Sheep Sector Review set out a series of actions for the Scottish Government and the sheep industry to facilitate sustainable and long term growth.
If the changes went ahead, it could boost the Scottish sheep sector by more than £26 million.
Mr Scott 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."
Speaking on a visit to Castle Grant Farm, Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing said he welcomes the review which will help develop Scotland’s sheep sector.
He 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."
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman, Jim McLaren said there is an opportunity within the industry to ’drive consumption both at home and abroad’.
"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."