New Scottish govt must promote native breeds, charity says

Native and rare breeds provide valuable commercial, environmental and cultural benefits
Native and rare breeds provide valuable commercial, environmental and cultural benefits

More work must be done to recognise native livestock and equines as a key part of Scotland’s biodiversity and national heritage, campaigners say.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has set out the actions that the new Scottish government, to be elected on 6 May, should take to boost native and rare breeds.

Scotland is a colossus in native breeds, from Aberdeen Angus cattle and Soay sheep to the Clydesdale horse, the Highland Pony and more.

But campaigners at the RBST say they have been 'taken for granted for too long', and future agricultural policy must actively support their resurgence.

The charity calls for more work to be done to recognise native livestock, such as a new agriculture policy to invest in supporting the associated environmental and cultural benefits.

The Scottish government should also provide one off capital investment to help restore the local abattoir network, which is 'crucial' to farming with rare and native breeds.

RBST chief executive Christopher Price said the formation of a new government provided a 'crucial opportunity' for policy to better reflect the economic, environmental and cultural contribution of native breeds.

“This is an exciting time for native breeds, as their ability to support the natural environment is increasingly highly valued, and as the commercial opportunities for farming with native breeds continue to grow.

“The newly elected Scottish government can take specific actions that will pave the way for a resurgence of native breeds."

Martin Beard, RBST vice president Scotland, farms rare breeds including Large Black pigs and Portland sheep in Angus.

He said they were 'the experts' in converting native vegetation into high quality produce whilst maintaining natural habitats and enhancing biodiversity.

“But our native breeds have been taken for granted for too long and future agricultural policy in Scotland must actively support their resurgence," he added.

"The Manifesto for Scotland’s Native Breeds that we launch provides a strong framework and we look forward to discussing its contents with MSP candidates across Scotland.”