Ulster Unionist agriculture Spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, has said the Livestock and Meat Commission needs to overhaul how it engages with beef and lamb producers in Northern Ireland.
The Upper Bann MLA said: “This week the Stormont Agriculture Committee received an update on the work of the LMC.
“Many farmers will be aware of the existence of the LMC, not least through the regular market updates, however few will actually know what the organisation does.
“The body, which is a non-departmental body of DARD, is meant to assist with the development of our key meat industry. In return it collects levies from beef and sheep slaughterers across Northern Ireland.
“Worryingly however, I think a malaise has set into the organisation. For instance I raised the fact that there is nobody from the meat processing industry on the board. If they are to truly promote the meat we produce, it is imperative that it takes on the views of our farmers and processors.
“Indeed the LMC are now working with DARD to introduce a further levy on live exports. If these additional charges are to be introduced the organisation needs to very clearly demonstrate its purpose.
“During the Committee meeting I raised the point that at present if the LMC were to cease very few farmers would actually notice, and that in itself was a major failing. The reality is the body could and should have an important role to play in the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland, not least because it receives such large sums of money from the industry every year. It needs to overhaul its approach however and the way it can start doing this is by renewing its engagement with farmers and processors.”