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A National Statistics Publication.
It has been a good year for cereal production in 2020 according to latest figures released by the Scottish Government. On the whole, the total area of cereals grown in Scotland are very like the 2019 estimates, despite the background of tricky winter conditions and COVID-19. Across Scotland the results have been mixed but on the whole spring barley and oats have been doing well.
The good year is mainly due to a predicted rise in total yield of two per cent. This could lead to grain production going up to 3.1 million tonnes.
The reports, published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, include first estimates from the June Agricultural Census. It shows the potato areas remained steady over the past year, at 28,400 hectares and vegetable areas increased by 13 per cent to 21,100 hectares. Strawberries are again the most popular soft fruit grown in Scotland. Strawberries make up more than half the total soft fruit area, which rose by seven per cent in 2020 to 2,200 hectares.
Livestock estimates show an on-going falling trend in cattle numbers. A one per cent drop in beef cattle and two per cent drop in dairy brought numbers to a new 60 year low. Dairy numbers have been mostly stable over the last 10 years but the fall in number of beef cattle has driven most of the decline in green-house gas emissions from agriculture.
The results also show there has been a good lambing season. Numbers are still picking up after the extreme wintry spell in the early 2018 season. The number of pigs have gone up for the second year in a row. Poultry numbers have fallen due to a drop in the number of birds used for laying eggs.
Other estimates from the June Census show the total workforce on farm holdings is broadly stable at 66,900. There has been a decrease in the number of secure tenancy farms but overall tenancies remained steady at 6,200 holdings. This is offset by an increase in limited duration tenancies.
To reduce farmers' paper work during the pandemic, the Scottish Government took steps to mainly hold this year’s June Census online. The full harvest survey will also be stopped this year, which would have been posted out now to farmers. Instead, statisticians are using data from IACS forms and a mix of advice from industry experts and other data sources to complete the results.
First estimates of the cereal and oilseed rape harvest are used to monitor cereal production, assess the economic well-being of the sector and help identify likely impacts on the market. The production estimates also feed into the UK cereals balance sheet which provides a comprehensive picture of the supply and demand position of the UK cereal market.
The June Census provides an annual update on trends in agricultural activity across the country. It covers all main types of farming and other aspects of farming life such as the availability of labour and tenancy.
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Official statistics are produced in accordance with professional standards. See standards of official statistics in Scotland for more information.