Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 11:03 UK

'Bright future' for sheep farming

A lamb being fed
Mr Lochhead said the future looked better for sheep farming

The rural affairs secretary has forecast a "bright future" for sheep farming in Scotland.

Richard Lochhead is attending Scotsheep 2008 in the Borders, one of the biggest events on the agricultural calendar.

He said he recognised that it had been a "tough year" for the livestock sector, particularly with the foot-and-mouth outbreak in England.

However, he said that rising sheep prices meant there was cause for greater confidence in the industry.

With more than 150 stands and featuring 41 breeds, Scotsheep is Scotland's major sheep farming event.

Proceedings at Teviothead, near Hawick, were opened by the Duke of Buccleuch.

Challenges ahead

Mr Lochhead said he believed the outlook for the future was improving.

He added: "This has undoubtedly been a tough year for the livestock sector, particularly with the outbreak of foot-and-mouth in England.

"However, recent months have seen a welcome upturn in sheep prices."

Mr Lochhead said that the increase in price, combined with an expected rise in exports were positive signs.

"The coming year will almost certainly bring its challenges, but I believe the Scottish sheep sector has a bright future," he said.

"The Scottish Government will continue to do all it can to support this vital industry."

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