Friday, 31 October 2008
John Scott urges action as agricultural census shows livestock slump
NEW Scottish Government figures have revealed a further steep fall in cattle, sheep and pig stock in Scotland, and the news has prompted Ayrshire MSP John Scott to renew his call to Ministers to take action to halt the decline in agriculture and the rural economy in South Ayrshire and across Scotland.
John Scott (pictured above), who is the Conservatives’ spokesman on rural affairs, was reacting to the publication this week of the final results of the June agricultural census.
He said: “The provisional figures published in September were bad enough, but the finalised census figures revealed this week show a decline in stock even worse than first thought.
“The results show that sheep numbers fell by 403,000 between June 2007 and June 2008, with cattle numbers falling by 46,000 and pig numbers by 21,000 over the same period.
“This drop in stock is matched by an equally alarming decrease in the total number of occupiers and regular staff working on agricultural holdings of some 2,750.
“With livestock numbers continuing to plummet and self-sufficiency in UK food production down 20% in the last ten years, there is a very real danger that we are on the edge of losing the critical mass necessary to sustain a viable livestock industry.
“I therefore urge the Scottish Government to take the steps needed to restore livestock to our hills, starting with a list of agricultural regulations ready for repeal and a revised rural development programme which recognises food production as the principal public benefit of land use.
“A continued failure to face up to the need for action will only cause further long-term damage to the rural economy both here in South Ayrshire and across the rest of Scotland.”
John Scott’s Scottish Parliament web page
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