A potential secure future for British beef
NewsThursday 20 June 2013
The NFU is calling for the whole supply chain to work together in order to ensure a bright future for British beef.
There seems to have been some renewed enthusiasm for British beef in the aftermath of the horsemeat scandal, and British farmers are keen to satisfy this demand.
However, due to the continued uncertainty provided by talks on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy, farmers are now looking for retailers and the food service industry to help out. They are looking for them to help deliver a more certain future and stimulate investment in production.
Andy Foot, the NFU Beef Group chairman, said that there had been good news in recent months in terms of stronger prices for beef at the farm gate. However, high costs and uncertainty over the future of CAP funding meant that beef farmer confidence and investment, especially in the suckler herd, remained low.
He spoke on the NFU website, saying: “For me, there has never been a better time to be a British beef farmer.
“Consumers are seeking out more British beef, retailers are keen to stock it on supermarket shelves and the pride and confidence in British beef is really strong.
“And there has never been a better time to back British beef; but there are challenges that we must work on together across the supply chain to overcome.
“We are keen to put more British beef on British plates but for this we need confidence that all areas of the supply chain will work together to both minimise and share the risk for the primary producer. As farmers we need to use this confidence to improve profitability, assess our costs and ensure we are running an efficient business.
“At a time of tight supply, it’s also vital that we are all making best use of the beef that is available. For example, we have a conundrum with current market signals leading to more breeding cows and heifers being killed which further erodes our next generation suckler herd. This is clearly storing up problems for the long-term sustainability of the British beef herd and we must have a strategy that addresses this.
“We believe there are some simple steps we can take as an industry to solve some of these current issues and we are committed to working across the trade to look at how to boost confidence and improve the sustainability of the industry.
“We must also address inconsistent restrictions on cattle specification which is reducing the number of cattle available to supply our shelves by rejecting cattle by varying ages, weights and the number of farms an animal can graze on in its lifetime. These are put in place by the trade to create a point of difference but now work against us in terms of supply.
“I believe the supply chain can do a lot to develop, co-ordinate and help fund initiatives that improve farm profitability, inspire producer confidence and stimulate production. As I said, there has never been a better time to back British beef or be a British beef farmer.”