NFU backs Great British Beef Week

The NFU is calling on more people to eat British beef as it supports Great British Beef Week. The annual campaign organised by Ladies in Beef launches today on St George’s Day.

The UK is the fourth largest producer of beef in Europe, but production has fallen by around four per cent in recent times. To reverse this trend the NFU is calling for consumers, retailers and Government to back British farming and play their part.

The NFU wants to see:

· More investment and longer term relationships in the beef supply chain

· The stranglehold of red tape removed from the sector

· Rural development programmes supporting productive and competitive farm businesses

· Environmental schemes having tailored and relevant options for grazed livestock which manages the majority of the most valued landscapes in the country

· Commitment from government to seriously address TB in all species

· British beef labelled clearly on the supermarket shelves

Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman, said: “Around half of our beef comes from the suckler herd – calves are reared with their mothers for seven to ten months. These herds are a vital part of our livestock production system with long term cycles of around three years. But cow numbers have been gradually falling. This week we are highlighting the need for government and the food industry to ensure we have more long term investment and the type of regulations and market signals that are targeted to reverse the current decline.

“Consumers tell us they want to eat more British produce and that provenance is important to them. One of the most interesting developments we’ve seen is the increased demand for native breeds of cattle such as Shorthorn, Angus and Hereford beef. Farmers have responded to this demand and adapted their systems accordingly. Many are embracing new technology, from ultrasound and genomics in breeding programmes through to computer modelling and precision farming. But having the long term confidence to invest is paramount to the future success of our beef sector and this comes from getting a framework where British beef farmers can run profitable businesses.

“Red Tractor assured British beef is a fantastic product. It is incredibly versatile, from large roasting joints for Sunday lunch to burgers on a barbeque. It also provides a wealth of public goods, through environmental benefits, maintaining the British countryside and forming part of the farming backbone of rural communities. Great British Beef Week is the perfect opportunity for livestock farmers to showcase their product to the public who can show their support for the industry by backing British farming.”

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