National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

NBA and the SBA condemn Finance Minister announcement

2nd December 2023

The National Beef Association and the Scottish Beef Association have condemned the Scottish Finance Minister announcement that a further £27 million will to be deducted from the agricultural budget.

In a joint statement, the National Beef Association’s CEO, Neil Shand, and the Scottish Beef Association chair, Paul Ross slammed this announcement, and shared their disbelief at Cabinet Secretary, Mairi Gougeon’s, announcements at Agriscot.

Commenting, Neil Shand said: "I listened to the Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon speak at Agriscot, and her rhetoric continues to fall short of what the industry expects and deserves. We continue to hear the long terms aims of taking Scotland back into the EU post-independence, but nothing about the stuff we really want to hear - what support do we have in the immediate and short term future. The EU is not the biggest market for Scottish beef suppliers - the majority of our product is destined for England. Unfortunately, the impression appears to be that politics and political gain is taking the place of common - and business - sense in this arena and by this Governmeny.

"Financial support for flooding is of course welcome and needed, but the lack of firm detail - or any detail at all - in regard to future support is strangling our industry. We are left with absolutely no idea where the missing £33 million has gone, or any time line for its return. It is noted that when the minister was questioned on this in parliament, she had no idea where the money currently was, or when it might be returned; the lack of transparency in this matter should be of utmost concern to all voters’

Mr Shand added: "It would be interesting to hear Westminster’s views in regard to the Scottish Agriculture bill, specifically in regard to whether it is felt that it puts the UK’s food security at risk- food for thought.

Paul Ross said: "Suckler cow numbers in Scotland continue to decline, and record levels of inflation are now baked into costs. The Brexit vote was over seven years ago and still we have no idea how, or what, future agricultural support will look like. The Agriculture Bill that is currently in circulation gives little guidance on future support from beef farming, apart from suggesting more hurdles to climb.

"The Bute House Agreement, which allows the Green Party far too big an input - and unelected input at that - into Scottish Agriculture is threatening stability for Scottish Beef producers. We need clarity, and we need it now. It appears this administration has very little clue on the day to day functioning of our industry, and their lack of foresight is causing problems in the short medium and will do so in the long term. Another raid on the 'ring fenced' agricultural budget does nothing to suggest this Government cares about the future of rural Scotland."