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Call for direct cash support to boost livestock numbers

10 April 2007

SCOTLAND - Consideration should be given to the re-introduction of direct support for suckler cows and breeding sheep, according to the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IASS).

Speaking in Edinburgh yesterday, Jack Clark, the president of the IASS, said: "Cow numbers have fallen quite noticeably since the reforms of the common agricultural policy became operative on 1 January, 2005. This clearly affects our member companies in terms of reduced throughput of store and prime cattle, but on the broader front, we need to be aware of the implications for future beef supplies.

"We would support any measure which would maintain cow numbers, and there must also be a case for the sheep sector, even if it is only on environmental grounds to maintain biodiversity on the hills. We have seen the number of cows in France increase and that may well be because there is still some direct support for farmers. Ireland has also introduced a headage payment on cows of 100 [£68]. Something similar would be very helpful in the Scottish context."

The headline figures reveal that, in the year to 31 December, 2006, the number of livestock sold by IASS member companies, and that covers virtually every auction house, declined in line with the trend towards fewer animals on farms. However, the encouraging feature was that gross turnover increased by more than £8.5 million to just short of £380m.

During last year, a total of 3.51 million livestock were sold, compared with 3.85 million in 2005. The average unit value of all livestock increased from £96.22 to £107.99, a clear reflection of the trend to higher prices for most classes of animals. The gross value of prime stock slipped by £5m to £165.3m, while store stock increased from £199.8m to £213.5m. This again demonstrates quite clearly that store prices were on a rising trend for most of last year.

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Source: Business.Scotsman.com


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