Code red among Scottish livestock farmers. The cause? Brexit. The potential exit of the UK from the European Union is already having an impact on the Northern end of the British territory, where livestock-related activities are under pressure. On one side is the decrement in meat sales – and thus the thinning of the herds -, and on the other side is the decrease in hides’ sales prices, which adds to the lower global demand.
The concerns of livestock farmers
“The latest data shows how the number of calves has decreased by 2% and if Brexit does take place, another 15% of the national livestock production will be lost”, states Andy McGowan, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), to globalmeatnews.com. The Scotland’s government has a project to better deal with Brexit, which consists of starting pilot projects to understand the long-term consequences of it. But according to Mr. McGowan there is no time to lose, and a series of measures should be put in place right away: increased financing for calves, renewing support for mountain sheep farmers and simplify the sector’s bureaucracy. The alarm is the result of a notification sent by National Farmers Union of Scotland, according to which the prices of bovine meats are at the lowest in 3 years and the same trend is applicable to hides.
Damage for leather
The income tied to the sale of non-edible goods deriving from the slaughtering process are an important part of businesses accounts, but (as explained by Stuart Ashworth, director of Quality Meat Scotland, to thescottishfarmer.co.uk), “synthetic products, along with the tendency to use more sneaker-type shoes, are excluding leather from the footwear segment”. Additionally, “alternative materials are gaining more and more space in the automotive and upholstery sectors”. Adding on to all these issues are trade wars and the global challenges regarding sustainability, which according to Ashworth have determined the decrease of demand at a global level, to the point that certain lower quality material is destroyed or sent to landfills in certain parts of the world. “All these factors inevitably cause issues for slaughterhouses – continues Ashworth -. Raw hides’ prices have fallen in Australia and United States over the past year, the cost of livestock in Germany fell by 5%: the UK isn’t immune to these dynamics”.