An ambitious bid to turn Scotland’s £200 million sheep industry into a £1 billion rural powerhouse has been launched by the National Sheep Association (NSA).
Sheep industry stalwarts from across Scotland joined the NSA’s Scottish chairman John Fyall at a Scottish Parliament reception.
He called on government to give the sector the pump priming funding it required to turn around the atmosphere of negativity to capitalise on the environmental, social and tourism opportunities that exist.
Mr Fyall addressed an invited audience that was a cross-section from rural Scotland and included new entrants, auctioneers, hauliers, food and tourism operators as well as sheep farmers from the north to the south.
He said the sheep sector could “easily” match the output of the £1bn forestry industry.
“They list every element of the chain but we have never realised the value of the environmental credentials of sheep and the carbon that is locked up in extensive grazings,” he said.
“And we need to see more lambs fattened here instead of being put across the border.
“At the moment there’s a Scotch brand, but less than 12% of lambs born in Scotland are sold under the brand and only 25% of what’s on supermarket shelves is Scotch.
“There’s also potential in wool in new markets as people are worrying about plastic now. Wool is fireproof and breathable and there’s scope for more branding.”
Mr Fyall added that the NSA has persuaded Quality Meat Scotland to ask government to double its £200,000 lamb promotion budget as a way of kick-starting interest in Scottish lamb. He also appealed to everyone present to become “lambassadors” for the brand.