Scottish farmers call for increased funding as cattle numbers fall

The number of cattle has fallen in both the beef and dairy sectors over the past year
The number of cattle has fallen in both the beef and dairy sectors over the past year

Scottish farmers have called for increased funding to help stop the continued decline in cattle numbers.

Cattle numbers in Scotland continue to fall according to the latest figures in the Scottish Agricultural Survey released by the Scottish government.

In December 2018, there were 1.66 million cattle in Scotland, which is 5 percent lower than the ten-year average and a drop of 2 percent on 1.69 million from the previous year.

The number of cattle has fallen in both the beef and dairy sectors over the past year. Beef fell by 1 per cent and dairy by 2 per cent.



There was also a 3 per cent drop in the number of calves.

Responding to this, the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) says there is a need for 'real money' to be invested by government to revive cattle numbers to past levels.



SAMW president, Andy McGowan, said the sector has been on a downward production spiral for the last 10 years.

He said farmers 'cannot – and must not – allow that to merely kick over into 2020 and beyond.'

It comes amid a 15 percent growth recorded last year in the country’s pig breeding herd.

Speaking during the association’s annual conference, Mr McGowan said: “We desperately need a similar degree of imagination and commitment from government and industry in relation to cattle and sheep production volumes.

“We’ve had initiatives in the past which have looked promising at the time, such as the Calf Support and Beef Efficiency Schemes, but the reality is that these schemes have proved to be ineffective in reversing Scotland’s falling stock numbers.

“I don’t think we should be ashamed as farmers and processors of asking for a big investment from government to realise our undoubted potential. Investments made now will pay dividends in the years to come.”

He added: “A lot is made of the £30 billion industry turnover value set by Scotland Food & Drink as the nation’s target for 2030, but that’s not going to happen without a fair amount of government and commercial investment along the way.



“We need our share of that investment if Scotland’s red meat industry is to play a full part in helping to deliver this lofty ambition,” Mr McGowan said.