The main farming unions representing livestock farmers in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland have met to discuss key issues affecting the cattle and sheep sectors.
NFU Scotland livestock committee chairman, Charlie Adam was representing NFUS at the meeting of representatives from the NFU, NFU Cymru, UFU and IFA in Buxton, England.
On changes to specifications and price grids being imposed on beef producers by processors, Charlie Adam, NFUS livestock chairman said processors cannot act unilaterally in this area and must work with farmer representatives. He said: “Weight and other penalties are totally unfair and will impose severe penalties on farmers. He said specifications must take account of the positive British and Irish production systems and price grids must be cost neutral to the sector.”
Commenting on further downward pressure on farm gate prices sapping confidence, NFU’s Charles Sercombe said: “In order to maintain a sustainable supply of high quality beef, retailers and processors must recognise that beef prices need to be above the costs of production, which currently is not the case.”
On sheep, Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru livestock board chairman said price stability in the market for the next month is crucial as it sets the pattern for the rest of the season, which in turn will be key to incomes for sheep farmers in 2016.
He said: “Demand will increase over the next few weeks driven by the retail changeover to spring lamb, a favourable exchange rate and also by domestic demand boosted by the Muslin festival of Ramadan which commences on June 7.”
The UK and Irish farm representatives were strongly supportive of work of the EU Sheep Reflection Group, which was set up by EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan. Crosby Cleland, UFU sheep committee chairman, said: “It is essential that the EU Sheep Reflection Group brings forward a set of strong and practical recommendations for the sheep sector focusing on the key issues of incomes and profitability, initiatives and promotion to support consumption, measures to grow trade and develop technology. In addition, sheep farming offers many positive public goods and the value delivered by the sheep sector to the wider society and environment must be fully recognised.”
On the EU trade negotiations for TTIP and Mercosur, Angus Woods, IFA Beef Committee chairman welcomed the decision to remove the beef TRQ’s from the offer transmitted to the Mercosur countries by the EU and recognised the positive work of EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan in defending the beef sector.
Mr Woods said: “The EU cannot allow beef imports into the European market which fail to meet EU standards across the key areas of traceability, food safety and animal health controls, animal welfare and environmental standards including carbon footprinting. In addition, he said the EU must not proceed with any further negotiations until they complete and publish a full impact assessment of all the trade deals in the beef sector.”