Beef Event ‘one of the best yet’

The Scotland's Beef Event hosts were the Milne family
The Scotland's Beef Event hosts were the Milne family

Early morning rain failed to deter farmers from attending the Scottish Beef Association’s Scotland’s Beef Event 2019 held last month on a leading Aberdeenshire beef farm.

Around 4,000 people streamed into North Bethelnie Farm, near Oldmeldrum, on Thursday, May 30.

Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, speaking at the opening ceremony

Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, speaking at the opening ceremony

“It was a very successful day and generally recognised as one of the best of the biennial beef events the SBA has organised over the years,” said SBA vice-chairman, David Barron, who chaired the organising committee.

“The 120 trade stands reported good business and the extensive technical demonstration area was thronged throughout the day with farmers keen to pick up all the latest technology for the beef industry.”

Mr Barron was full of praise for the host farmers, Robbie and Barbara Milne, and their son, James, who put on a great show.

One of the highlights of the day was the tour of the 500 acre all-grass farm – with no fewer than 22 tractors and trailers at the ready to avoid queuing – which took visitors right to the top of the hill, where they were treated to an ice-cream from neighbouring farmers, Mackie’s, while enjoying magnificent views of the Aberdeenshire countryside looking up to Bennachie.

Beef farmers – like all farmers and indeed the whole of industry – are facing an uncertain future as the debacle and stalemate of the Brexit negotiations continues.

The only thing farmers can do is to make sure they are operating as efficiently and productively as possible so they are in a strong position to cope with whatever hits them in the future – in or out of Europe – and they had plenty of pointers at the Beef Event which more than lived up to its theme - Breeding, Feeding, Succeeding.

Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, who in giving the official opening address, reiterated his support for the beef industry and determination to reverse the continuing decline in the national beef herd.

But saying is not doing although, in fairness to Mr Ewing, he dropped more than a broad hint that the Scottish Government is looking at an emergency support package for the beef sector. This could take the form of increased headage payments under the existing beef calf support scheme.

The SBA, along with NFU Scotland and other industry stakeholders, have been pressing Mr Ewing on the issue and SBA chairman, Neil McCorkindale, was hoping for an announcement by the Cabinet Secretary at the event.

This didn’t materialise but Mr Ewing indicated he was sympathetic to the plea and accepted the argument that headage payments would be a more effective approach than area based support which would simply encourage inertia in the industry.