Ulster Farmers’ Union, beef and lamb chairman, Crosby Cleland says processors must focus on delivering better prices and greater transparency if the drive to build a better red meat industry is to prove successful.
“Recently, prices for beef and lamb have improved. Much of this is down to the weakness of sterling. This has created export opportunities and made importing cheap meat less attractive. But while these better prices are welcome, we can’t lose sight of the fact that input prices are starting to rise. This will limit any boost to producer margins,” said Mr Cleland. He said farmers would try to counter rising costs by being more efficient, but stressed that processors must accept the need to deliver strong prices through uncertain times. “This uncertainty reflects concerns surrounding Brexit and the continued reduction in BPS payments on many farms. These and other things are having a big impact on producer decision making. This makes viable and stable prices vital if processors want long term security of supply,” said Mr Cleland.
The UFU says that while some processors are already working with farmers to improve understanding of the supply chain, others need to show a greater commitment to transparency.
“Processors need to be more open about how stock is processed, the marketing of red meat and also returning more specific feedback to farmers on their livestock so that farm production can be improved,” said Mr Cleland.