North East farmers fear Scottish border controls

Farmer with land and buildings straddling the Scottish border are worried about the potential for full controls on goods and services in the event of a pro-independence vote

MSP Richard Lochhead
MSP Richard Lochhead

Farmer with land and buildings straddling the Scottish border are worried about the potential for full controls on goods and services in the event of a pro-independence vote.

Further uncertainty has been expressed as to whether Scotland will be required to apply for EU membership in the event of a successful independence vote.

However, Scotland’s successful food and drinks industry remains one of the country’s strong EU and global export growth areas.

A report into the Scottish dairy industry by Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has mapped out ways for the dairy sector to become a global leader by 2025.

A review of the milk and dairy sector entitled Ambition 2025 was commissioned by Mr Lochhead last November and the findings were revealed this week.

The report highlights numerous recommendations for the sector to increase annual milk production to 1.6 billion litres by 2025.

Mr Lochhead said: “There is huge potential for Scotland’s dairy industry to become a global leader and we should look to explore any avenue and opportunity that is open to us.”

The report findings were chaired by James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink.

The 19 recommendations include a market-driven partnership involving farmers, processors, industry bodies and the Scottish Government.

Mr Lochhead said the report had laid out a number of recommendations for the sector to consider.

“It is now important to look at the report detail and formulate a plan to help support further growth within the Scottish dairy sector,” he added.

While Scotland is famed for its whisky, beef and lamb, milk production accounts for 13% of Scotland’s agricultural output and dairy products contribute more than £100m to the nation’s food and drink manufacturing.

The Scottish Government has continued to invest in the future of its dairy industry and has funded the latest Scottish Monitor Farm project, a three-year programme aimed at delivering world-class expertise and practical knowledge to dairy producers which followed on from the success of a similar programme run by Simon and Claire Bainbridge at their farm in Scots Gap, Northumberland.

The new Auchenheath and Glenapp Monitor Farm programme is the third in a series of projects demonstrating the Scottish Government’s long-term commitment to milk production and helping farmers achieve increasing levels of efficiency, production and profit.

Commenting on the Ambition 2025 report, Mr Withers said the opportunity to increase milk production would be dependent on the development of new export markets.

He added that he was optimistic about the prospects of the Scottish dairy sector prior to the review and said: “I believe by 2025 we will see a transformed industry in this country.

“It is one which can significantly grow its output by up to 50% as a direct result of creating new, added-value markets.”

The dairy industry initiative has been backed by NFU Scotland (NFUS) and Dairy UK.

However, with EU milk quotas due to end in 2015, NFUS milk committee chairman Gary Mitchell said Scottish farmers wanted to be part of a rising global demand for milk and dairy products.

He added: “The provenance of Scotland’s food and drink is world-renowned and at a time when there is a global demand for premium products, this report clearly demonstrates that we can offer consumers at home and abroad a range of dairy products which are of the highest quality.”

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