Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has welcomed a report by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) this week, assessing the economic contribution of Scotland’s red meat supply chain to the Scottish economy at £2.8bn. On-farm production of beef cattle, pigs and sheep had an estimated value of c.£1.27bn in 2020, representing c.37% of total agricultural output. Farm labour associated with this production was c.31,000, deployed across more than 20,000 farm holdings.
Red meat production contributed between 36 per cent and 38 per cent of Scottish agricultural output in the latest five years for which figures are available, with almost a quarter of output coming from the beef sector.
Sarah Millar, QMS’s Chief Executive said: “This report is vital to understanding the red meat supply chain in Scotland’s total - as well as it’s rural economy. Red meat is fundamental to Scotland’s agri-food sector, with an annual economic output of an estimated £2.8bn, up over 16 per cent from £2.4bn in 2016.”
Commenting on the report, Mr Carmichael said:
“This is a timely reminder of just how crucial livestock farming and crofting are to our economy and community in the isles. It is not just a matter of raw output but about supply chains and local community connections. Where farmers are succeeding it keeps our islands grounded and our economy diverse.
“Governments need to recognise that these businesses are at the heart of our communities. That role cannot be easily replaced. Without successful crofting and hill farms, we would be at further risk of depopulation and the hollowing out of our communities.
“It is in all of our interests to keep our agricultural economy going strong, and local food producers doing what they do best. That is a lesson both of our governments seem to have forgotten in recent years – it is past time that they remembered.”