NFU Scotland has said that preliminary estimates of the Scottish
Cereal and Oilseed Rape Harvest, published today by the Scottish
Executive, show an expected fall in production.
2006 has seen an overall decline in the
Scottish cereals harvest
The figures compared with 2005 show an overall decline in the
cereals harvest, with tonnage falling by 72,000 tonnes (2.7 per
cent). With yields remaining roughly the same the fall is attributed
mainly to a fall in area of 3.2 per cent.
Especially important is the continuing decline in spring barley
production, which fell by 12.3 per cent. This is the third successive
year of reducing production. Malting barley availability has been
hit particularly badly as growers who in past years have received
low premiums for malting barley have switched to feed varieties.
In addition, the oilseed rape area fell (by 2.6 per cent), again
due to low prices last year which did not provide the market incentive
John Picken, Chairman of the NFUS Combinable Crops Committee,
“We have consistently said that in the new CAP Reform era
production across every area of agriculture would fall unless market
incentives compensated. These figures support that prediction.
“Now that farmers do not receive support based on volumes
of production, the only reason they will continue to grow crops
at the same levels is if the market delivers a sustainable price
for what they produce. We recognise that cereals prices are higher
this year but there are signs that some buyers have still not got
the message. There will inevitably be ups and downs in prices -
we can live with that, but buyers who choose not to establish long-term
relationships need to pay for the ‘ups’ as well as
benefiting from the ‘downs’. Otherwise the trend to
lower plantings will continue.
“Just two days ago in London both maltsters and millers
expressed concern over future supplies. That message has to be
targeted on those of their customers who think that they can continue
to force down prices, despite increasing costs, without there being
any effect on availability.
“The evidence should now be clear that due to inequitable
relationships within the food supply chain, market prices are not
providing enough incentive to farmers to produce on the same scale.
In other words, CAP reform is biting and the market is not delivering
“In our recent evidence to the Competition Commission investigation
into the grocery sector, we expressed our concern that if poor
market prices continue, farmers will be forced out of business.
Farmers march with their feet and react in the most logical way
to pressures put upon them and if things continue as they are then
the UK could face serious food security issues and consumer choice
will suffer as a result.”
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