Scotland’s farmers reveal plans to expand

Farmers in Scotland are more optimistic about the industry than at any time in the past decade, a survey has found.

Professor Donald MacRae, Lloyds TSB chief economist, said farmers were planning to expand in every sector in Scotland.

He has surveyed Scottish farmers for the past 14 years and said optimism in the industry was at a record high.

Of the 377 farmers polled, between 1 December 2009 and 7 January, 84% said business had been profitable in the past year, he added.

Prof MacRae attributed most of the confidence boost to the livestock sector, which saw dramatic end price rises in 2009.

Around 87% of dairy farmers – a 13% rise on the previous year – said they thought 2009 had been profitable, despite concern over low milk prices.

Those planning to increase their dairy herd size would translate into a 7% increase in Scottish dairy herd by 2015, said Prof MacRae.

Sheep and beef cattle producers said they would increase livestock numbers in the next five years – 7.7% in the sheep sector and 2.6% in beef.

Even struggling Scottish pig farmers said they planned to push up sow numbers (8.3%) and cereal growers intended to increase acreage (5%).

“There has been a large number of producers come out of the industry but it now seems as if those who are left are considering increasing their cow numbers,” MacRae said.

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