Scotland must make more of malt

NFU Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to help make more of malt and strip away the Scottish cereal sector’s vulnerability to volatility.

Writing to Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, the Union said the unique strength of the Scotch whisky sector and the position of malting barley as the nation’s dominant crop presents an opportunity to support and drive our arable production for years to come.

Following up on matters raised at the Union’s AGM in the spring, NFUS believes the time is right to bring together all players in the malt supply chain – growers, maltsters and distillers – and pull together a strategy to ensure the sector’s continued growth and well-being.

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:

“Scottish growers will always be challenged by volatility, a short growing season and – as this week has sadly demonstrated – a challenging climate. However, the burgeoning success of Scottish Whisky presents a unique, long-term opportunity for our growers that can support and drive sustainable production in the years ahead.

“As we move into a new CAP era, many farm businesses must review their production systems and attempt to future proof business models. Clear signals and balanced contracts built around a clear vision would safeguard the future supply of crops such as malting barley and distilling wheat.

“This must be the right moment for Scottish Government to bring all players in the malt supply chain together to discuss a strategy to link malting barley growers to Scotland’s distilleries through a collaborative pact. The pact can underpin production and safeguard the crop area to ensure it is able to support the growing ambition of malt and grain whisky production. It can also underpin agronomic development, infrastructure and map out a strategy to build our malting capacity here in Scotland so that it better matches the scale of our distilling sector.

“The Union is keen to work with Scottish Government to put a Scottish cereals summit together. With its input and support, a new level of collaboration is possible – a Scottish malt pact that can underpin both quality and growth in our world-leading whisky sector.”

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