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Stackyard News Oct 06

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Fall In Scottish Cereals Output No Surprise

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 to grow.

John Picken, Chairman of the NFUS Combinable Crops Committee, said:

“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 a cure.

“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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National Farmers' Union
NFU Scotland