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    Code of conduct for livestock farming a step closer

    NewsWednesday 02 July 2014
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    Yesterday, farming leaders gathered to begin the process of addressing the crisis of crashing beef prices in the UK. 
     
    They have since come out and said that action is now needed. 
     
    The NFU joined government ministers, processors and retailers at a beef summit that was held in London, and the union came out saying that “positive steps” had been made. 
     
    A statement has been released by the NFU saying that its calls for a voluntary code of practice concentrating on notice periods and transparency “were recognised”. However, they also stated that the details of the agreement were yet to be hammered out. 
     
    Once processors, retailers and farmers’ groups have decided on the precise arrangements, a report will then be made to Farming Minister George Eustice in a few weeks. 
     
    Meurig Raymond, the NFU President spoke positively about the beef summit saying: “This code is a positive step forward and something that we’ve been calling for. We will also hold further discussions with the trade on the transparency of abattoir charges because our members regularly contact us on this issue.”
     
    For months now farmers have been demanding action as the deadweight prices have plummeted in the face of cheaper imports. The majority of these imports are coming in from Ireland, which is where the largest processors are based. 
     
    Supermarkets are also being accused of avoiding the issue of origin, which is another major talking point in the industry. Many are accusing the supermarkets of not addressing the problem, with the NFU deputy president Minette Batters saying that they are “hiding behind a fog” over labelling. 
     
    Last month saw farmers getting riled when the Government opted to side with food processors in blocking the compulsory labelling of ready meals, which is another issue that was raised at the meeting. 
     
    “We must increase demand for our product and we’ve said to retailers that they need to actively promote Red Tractor-assured British Beef,” said Charles Sercombe, the NFU livestock board chairman. 
     
    “I’m pleased that at the Summit, retailers acknowledged the importance of clearly, unambiguously and accurately promoting British beef.”
    Defra has assured the NFU that it will be actively investigating the export markets with the levy bodies, with potential prospects in Japan and the longer term China. The use of PGI status will also be important here in promoting British beef abroad. 
     
    And, Defra also stated that it would look at the opportunities, with EBLEX, in order to invest Rural Development money in improving competitiveness and productivity on farms. 
     
    In the NFU’s statement they welcomed the commitments made by Defra and stated that they will work together with the body to make them happen. 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
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