Concern expressed in Scottish Farmer article
An article yesterday on the Scottish Farmer website reports that the national Farmers’ Union are worried by the increasing use of distillery by-products as fuel for renewable energy installations, rather than feed for livestock. Last week NFUs’ chief executive, Scott Walker, met with members of thte Banff and Buchan Branch – the heart of the Speyside ‘whisky trail’ – to discuss the issue. NFU have written to the Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead to relay their members’ worries over the future availability of dark grains to their industry.
Dark grains are a by product of alcohol distillation obtained by drying solid residues of fermented grain to which certain solubles (pot ale syrup or evaporated spent wash) have been added. This is a valued feed source for cattle and sheep in Scotland. The union are worried that the loss of this valued feed source could have a knock on effect on Scotland’s already declining cattle and sheep population.
Mr Walker said: “Scotland may be sleepwalking towards a fundamental change in the availability of animal protein, with negative consequences for the livestock and dairy sectors of Scottish agriculture.
It is not entirely clear where this new concern springs from as previous fears expressed in the middle of last year were dismissed when Helius CoRDe, the developers of the new combined heat and power biomass energy plant at Rothes, provided reassurances that the draff intended for the biomass plant is a product that does not normally find its way onto the North East or Scottish markets. As such, it said at the time, supplies of draff to farmers in the area are likely to be unaffected by the development of the new biomass plant. The plant operators also indicated that the availability of dark grains would be unaffected by the planned plant and, in the case of pot ale syrup, that available supplies would actually increase.
There is a full article in the current print edition of the Scottish Farmer which may shed more light on the matter. More on this later.