Latest Briefing for 2009

Lamb being transported

Shepherds Are Key To Sustainable Extensive Sheep Farming

The report from SAC’s Rural Policy Centre; ‘Farming’s Retreat from the Hills’ (SAC, 2008) shows that sheep numbers have declined rapidly since 1999 in some areas of Scotland. The decline has accelerated since reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2005, which saw the introduction of a Single Farm Payment and decoupling of entitlement from livestock numbers. Although the situation is complex and varies with region, it seems likely that these changes to the CAP have made it more difficult to justify keeping sheep and so contributed to the decline in sheep numbers particularly in marginal areas. This decline has important implications for the environment, biodiversity and rural communities.   

Now that the financial outputs from sheep farming systems are no longer boosted by headage payments, it is particularly important farmers ensure that costs are minimised if enterprises are to remain viable. Data from the Farm Accounts Scheme for specialist sheep farms in the less favoured areas of Scotland (SAC, 2009) shows that labour costs including the manual labour of farmer and spouse represent about 50% of all costs recorded on such farms. These costs are therefore likely to come under close scrutiny.

However, labour input is an important contributor to productivity. It has also been shown to be important for animal welfare on extensive sheep farms (Stott et al., 2005).  Despite this, little is known about labour use on these farms. Research to address this gap would increase understanding of the relationships between labour, productivity, profitability and animal welfare and so contribute towards development of sustainable systems of extensive sheep production. 

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Published on 18 December 2009 in Sustainability and Communities

Briefings for 2009

Genomics And Sustainable Control Of The Potato Cyst Nematode Globodera Pallida

The potato cyst nematode, Globodera pallida, is a serious problem for growers in Scotland and in all major potato growing regions of the world. Read more

Published on 26 November 2009 in Sustainability and Communities

Differential Social Impacts Of Climate Change In The UK

An investigation into the social impacts of climate change . Read more

Published on 23 November 2009 in Climate, water and energy , Food, health and wellbeing

Biodiversity Guidance For Public Bodies

A need has been identified to assist public bodies in their task of protecting and enhancing biodiversity. Read more

Published on 23 November 2009 in Ecosystems and biodiversity

Sustainability-Plant Disease Control

A major way to contribute to increased crop production is by improving control of pests and diseases through better surveillance, optimising chemical inputs and developing resistant crops. Read more

Published on 17 November 2009 in Sustainability and Communities , Climate, water and energy

Reducing Sheep Stocking Rates Through Improved Fecundity

Research into how to manage sheep flocks to produce both increased economic outputs and biodiversity objectives. Read more

Published on 16 November 2009 in Ecosystems and biodiversity

The Non-Market Benefits Of Reaching Good Ecological Status For Scotland's Rivers And Lochs

It is undisputed that water is considered a very valuable resource. The main challenge for benefit estimation, however, is that water has many values, few of which are reflected in markets. Read more

Published on 6 November 2009 in Sustainability and Communities

Ticks And Tick-Borne Diseases In A Changing World

Recent studies show ticks and tick-borne diseases are increasing in the UK. Additionally, woodland and forest cover is changing, with big increases in forestry planned. Read more

Published on 5 November 2009 in Food, health and wellbeing

Dietary Fibre And Gut Health

A better understanding of the interactions between fibre, microbes and the human body is needed if we are to offer properly informed nutritional messages, and assess health claims for food products based on fibre. Read more

Published on 5 November 2009 in Food, health and wellbeing

Food Choice And Health: The Role Of Economic Factors

The Office for National Statistics in its celebration of the 50 years of the report . Read more

Published on 23 October 2009 in Sustainability and Communities , Food, health and wellbeing

Fats So? Understanding The Metabolism Of Dietary Fats And Their Impact On Health

Heart disease remains one of the major causes of premature death in the UK. Aside from debilitating effects on the quality of life it is also a major financial burden to the NHS and the economy. Read more

Published on 20 October 2009 in Food, health and wellbeing

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