In a letter to Fergus Ewing, cabinet secretary for the rural economy, the industry body proposed measures that would grant Scotland’s beef farmers a return of above £3.60/kg for all properly finished and marketed cattle.
Such a move would ensure meat producers did not continue to lose money, SAMW said.
The association acknowledged there were “no easy solutions” to the task of retaining beef cattle numbers on Scotland’s farms at current levels. However, it added the processing sector was unable to pay any more for livestock, due to very low world wholesale prices and high competition.
“When, as now, the market is depressed, we would contend that the convergence funding promised by the Prime Minister should be used by the Scottish Government to fund a short-term support scheme to top up farmers’ market returns, provided his/her cattle hit the correct specification, i.e. within a weight range of 280kg to 360kg and grades O+4L, R3, R4L, U3 or U4L,” the letter stated.
“This would allow cattle finishers to be able to buy store cattle, knowing they have a guaranteed finished price for all cattle that are in the right specification to what the consumer wants. Compliance with these parameters could be monitored via the Bovine EID database.”
The letter also addressed the cost burden of what it labelled current “unfair inspections” placed on red and white meat processing by Food Standards Scotland (FSS).
SAMW said the charging regime contributed to FSS running costs, but added that other suppliers of protein did not have to pay for the same service, a move it blasted as “inherently unfair and unreasonable”.
Meanwhile, UK workers’ union Unite has called on the government to provide clarity over the potential for a trade deal that could allow US meat products into the country.