Action plan to revitalise £200m sheep sector

Fergus Ewing

A 24-point action plan aimed at revitalising Scotland’s £200 million-a-year sheep sector has been unveiled by a group of industry experts.

The recommendations are contained in the final report of the Scottish Sheep Sector Review.

The report, produced by an industry group chaired by former UK Sheep Farmer of the Year John Scott, sets out a series of actions for the Scottish Government and the sheep industry to bring about sustainable and long term growth.

“Scotland is home to almost five million sheep, with the sector worth more than £200 million a year to the rural economy,” said Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.

“However, farm revenues have fallen sharply in recent years and sheep producers rely heavily on subsidies to keep them in business.

“It is therefore crucial that Government, industry organisations and livestock producers work together to overcome the challenges the sector is facing and to make the most of market opportunities for our world class lamb.

“I very much welcome the Scottish Sheep Sector Review and would like to thank John and his team for pulling together such a comprehensive and ambitious set of recommendations aimed at delivering a profitable future for the Scottish sheep sector.

“Achieving this has the potential to benefit the Scottish sheep sector by more than £26 million per year but will require the buy-in and active participation of the entire supply chain — from farmers and crofters, to red meat processors, retail and food service suppliers and the owners and chefs of high end restaurant and hotels.

“I am therefore asking John to continue what he has started and lead a small team of key players in the supply chain to drive forward the implementation of these recommendations.”

John Scott, chairman of the Scottish Sheep Sector Review, said: “It was clear to all members of the review team that while the sheep supply chain faces many challenges we also have a fantastic natural product with untapped potential for growth.

“This report identifies a range of actions that I believe will enable the entire sector to thrive and prosper.”

Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said: “The dedication, commitment and skills of those who work in the Scottish sheep industry is truly commendable, however, as outlined in the Review, there are opportunities which can be seized to improve efficiency and drive innovation within the sector, ensuring sustainable and profitable growth.

“We have a fantastic product in Scotch Lamb PGI which is natural, delicious and versatile and there is no doubt that in a world which is increasingly demanding quality red meat, there is an opportunity to drive consumption both at home and abroad.”

Read the full Scottish Sheep Sector Review here: