Dairy farmers in the south of Scotland who are running out of silage as a result of bringing their cattle indoors early last year could benefit from this year's potato surplus.

Livestock farmers are finding it difficult to source scarce fodder to augment their dwindling supplies, but surplus or poorer quality potatoes sold as cattle feed could offer them a lifeline.

AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) announced this week that GB potato stock levels for the end of November are estimated at 3.6m tonnes, the highest level for this point in the season since 2011/12.

Amber Cottingham, Analyst for AHDB Potatoes, said: "Last December we estimated the GB production figures to be up around 15 per cent, at 6.04m tonnes, so the increase in stocks held in store has been expected."

The high production in the 2017 growing season was the result of a five per cent increase in the area planted to 122,779 hectares (ha), coupled with one of the highest average yields on record (49.3t/ha).

Ms Cottingham reported that there have been quality issues this season due to poor conditions at harvest adding: "We only measure the amount of crop in stores and not the quality, we are aware that there have been storage quality issues reported."

* Meanwhile the red meat levy bodies in England, Scotland and Wales have announced a major programme of joint activities to be paid for by a ring-fenced fund of £2m of AHDB red meat levies.

An agreement by AHDB, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) will see a range of activity delivered in a three-way collaboration starting this year.

This has been developed as an interim arrangement while a long-term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at point of slaughter in England for animals reared in Scotland or Wales.

The ring-fenced fund will boost the international presence and access for meat from Britain in key overseas markets with particular focus on preparing for the potential challenges and opportunities that are likely to follow Brexit.

Market round-up

Lawrie & Symington Ltd sold 320 store heifers in Lanark on Tuesday to a top of 254p per kg and an average of 212.3p (no change on the fortnight), while 356 store, beef-bred bullocks peaked at 275.1p and levelled at 222.9p (+3.2p). Forty store, dairy-bred bullocks sold to 155.4p and averaged 149.6p (+2p).

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd sold 38 store heifers in Lockerbie on Tuesday to a top of 248.9p per kg and an average of 216.3p, while 59 store bullocks peaked at 252.8p and levelled at 232.1p.