THE Scottish Beef Cattle Association (SBCA) and the National Beef Association (NBA) have finally agreed to merge following a meeting in Hexham attended by mediator John Ross.

The SBCA board approved the route at its November meeting, but this week saw final agreement reached on the central principles and a draft Heads of Terms was signed between respective chairmen Scott Henderson and Hamish McBean, which will now allow a single representative body for beef farmers. The NBA board is building its national framework in the belief that a bottom-up and country-based structure holds the key to optimal delivery for the industry.

Following a year of wrangling, the SBCA will be replaced in favour of a phoenix-like Scottish Beef Association (SBA). The SBA steering group will remain under the chairmanship of Mr Ross until an inaugural members' meeting in early January to vote in a board.

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The SBA will have an assured and interwoven alliance with NBA on UK matters, while operating independently in Scotland determining its own policy and finances.

Mr Henderson said: "I am elated we now have a single strong voice for beef producers in Scotland which will put the industry first. The SBA will deal with the issues that affect beef production and beef producers, and will continue the valuable lobbying that has been recently carried out by both parties.

"This process has taken far too long and allowed too much speculation by some in the farming press and beyond, but finally we have got there."

Market round-up

CRAIG Wilson sold 139 store bullocks at Ayr on Thursday to a top of £1190 per head and 244p per kg to average £813.56 and 188.3p, while 72 store heifers peaked at £1150 and 212.9p and levelled at £809.03 and 197.8p.

United Auctions sold 3801 prime lambs at Stirling on Thursday to a top of £96 per head and 213p per kg to average 151.6p (-4p on the week).

The Cumberland & Dumfriesshire Farmers' Mart held its Christmas show and sale in Longtown on Thursday when there were 58 pens of 10 prime lambs entered in nine different classes. The championship was awarded to last year's winners, Messrs Cavers, Sorbie, Langholm, for a pen of 10 Beltex scaling 44kg each and realising £140 per head or 318 per kg. Overall, the 6021 prime lambs sold averaged 152.4p.

Another large show of 6815 cast sheep saw good, big ewes dearer on the week.

Heavy ewes sold to £125.50 for Texels and averaged £64.88, while light ewes peaked at £67.50 for Cheviots and levelled at £32.29.

Rams sold to £126.50 for Texels and averaged £71.29.