Outlook is bright for hill farms
Published at 21:39, Wednesday, 28 December 2011
A NEW SAC report suggests Scotland’s hill farming sector is responding to recent economic and policy signals, that the retreat from the hills has stabilised with some evidence of localised increases in sheep and cattle numbers.
Response from the Hills, produced by SAC’s Rural Policy Centre, updates the analysis published during 2008 in the landmark report Retreat from the Hills.
SAC’s latest look at the evidence now suggests that as financial returns from beef and sheep have improved, many upland producers are looking to the future with greater confidence.
The detailed analysis also identifies the wide variation of response around Scotland, coupled with changes in farming systems.
Report author, SAC economist Steven Thomson, said: “At national and regional level it appears the industry is turning a corner. At a more local level this is not always the case.
“Farmers are now more commercially aware and adapting their businesses rather than focusing on maximising CAP headage payments. As a result, we are seeing changing herd or flock sizes and different breeds or types of stock. The shift from the high hills to lower ground is also continuing.”
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