Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead (left) and Jim McClaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland announce the release of "Beef 2020".

EDINBURGH, Scotland – Shrinking cattle herds and low profitability have spurred the government of Scotland into action to revitalize the country's beef industry.

Headwinds for Scotland's beef industry include declining cattle numbers. Beef cow numbers have fallen by 50,000 head since 2005, and abattoirs have reported a 15 percent reduction in throughput. Both industries struggle with low profitability. In response, the government formed an industry group charged with developing recommendations that will facilitate sustainable long-term growth in Scotland's beef industry. The final report, “Beef 2020”, was released Aug. 20.

“The recommendations set out in the report, which are designed to be owned and adopted by the Scottish beef industry, aim to facilitate collaboration, profitability, confidence and investment at every stage of the Scottish red meat supply chain — factors which are key in ensuring a future marked by sustainable, profitable growth,” said Jim McClaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland and chairman of the Beef 2020 industry group.

“Scotland’s beef industry is characterized by opportunity and the group and I are under no doubt that a strong home market coupled with the growing global demand for red meat and premium products points to future success,” he added.

Specific recommendations fell under general ideas such as building trust in the supply chain; improving market transparency; creating pilot collaborative supply chains to develop new markets and developing a pricing system that more accurately reflects the value of beef cattle, among other things.

The group noted in “Beef 2020” that Scotland’s beef industry “is at the heart of Scottish agriculture.” Beef production recorded a value in 2013 of roughly £825 million ($1.3 billion). The beef industry alone accounts for 26 percent of Scottish agricultural output and is the biggest single sector of the Scottish agricultural industry.

“Beef production is the powerhouse of Scottish agriculture,” said Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead. “It is our single biggest farming sector and makes up more than a quarter of Scottish agricultural output.

“That is why it is so essential that government, industry organizations and beef producers work together to overcome the challenges the sector is facing — which include declining livestock numbers and low profitability — and to make the most of markets opening up for our world class beef.” For more information, go to: