An urgent call for retailers to throw their support behind the UK
farming industry has come from Scottish farming leaders.

Amid producer fears about a potential lamb market price collapse in
response to the export ban, NFU Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland
leaders urged UK retailers to “put their money where their mouth is”
and stand by the industry.

“The retailers know we don’t have access to export markets –
potentially for three months. We need complete and utter buy-in from UK
retailers to Scottish and UK product right now,” said Jim McLaren, NFUS
president.

“It is vitally important the message goes out today that we will very
quickly have product back in to the UK supply line, so these guys are
not running for the hills and sourcing large amounts of product in from
elsewhere.”

Mr McLaren added it was vital that derogations to allow movement of
stock on welfare grounds were introduced as soon as possible. He said
the pig sector in the particular would very quickly face welfare issues
as a result of the movement ban. “We will also be pressing for licences
for movement to slaughter from tomorrow within Scotland”, said Mr
McLaren.

Each week, £9.4 million worth of Scottish livestock is slaughtered –
9000 cattle, 32,000 lambs and 14,000 pigs – with a further 30,000
Scottish lambs slaughtered south of the border.

There are now grave concerns about the inability of the home market to
absorb the 27% of Scottish lamb kill which would usually be exported.
However, Donald Biggar, QMS chairman, warned against talking the market
down, saying it was still too early to judge the impact.

The QMS team has been liaising closely with retail industry
contacts. “The feedback we are getting is very positive and lets hope
that is followed through. There is a reasonable amount of product in
the pipeline at the moment so we have a little bit of time and if we
can get licences to allow movement to abattoir quickly enough there
will be continuation of supply,” said Mr Biggar.

Both leaders welcomed the swift introduction of an on-farm burial
derogation announced yesterday (Sunday), allowing farmers to bury their
deadstock on farm if they adhere to the PEPFA code.


In terms of lifting the movement ban, NFUS vice president Nigel Miller said it was likely that parts of England, Scotland and Wales would be regionalised rather than introducing some sort of border divide
which would prove almost impossible to police.