Union presidents raise beef crisis with Minister Eustice

Two Union presidents have met with Farming Minister George Eustice to outline the concerns of beef producers who are experiencing low prices.

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 8:55 am
Pictured (L-R): NFU Cymru President John Davies, Farming Minister George Eustice, NFU President Minette Batters
Pictured (L-R): NFU Cymru President John Davies, Farming Minister George Eustice, NFU President Minette Batters

NFU and NFU Cymru Presidents, Minette Batters and John Davies, said after the meeting that they were pleased that they were able to lay out the concerns of beef producers who are experiencing very low prices, with little prospect of the market improving any time soon.

Mrs Batters continued: “The Minister was very receptive, we discussed the root cause of the crisis and together we developed ideas for how Government could restore the functionality of this vitally important supply chain.

“Critically, the Minister was aligned with our view on the importance of a well-functioning beef supply chain and committed to again progress how the voluntary code will move to a statutory footing through the powers that the Agriculture Bill will confer on Ministers. We also agreed that we should share our ideas on how the grading system should be improved post-Brexit to reward farmers for the quality and meat yield of carcasses.

“Moreover we made the case that to increase transparency of product flows and the mixture of Irish and UK beef on retail shelves, Government should insist on differentiation of barcodes.

“We also asked that the review of AHDB was published as a matter of urgency so that the process of restructure and renewal to better serve the needs of farmers could begin as soon as possible.

“Finally, we secured the Minister’s agreement to host a roundtable discussion on the functionality of the marketplace.

“As we enter a period of considerable change in agricultural commodity markets, Government must assess how and whether the legal framework is fit for purpose and risk and fairness is balanced in the supply chain. In the long term, if unreasonable and unfair behaviour persist then my concern is that consumers will lose out due to reduced choice and availability of British beef.”

Meanwhile, a Beef Crisis Meeting was due to take place last night (Tuesday) in The Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown organised by Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association, the National Beef Association and Farmers For Action under NI Farm Groups.

Ahead of the meeting a spokesperson for the organisations stated that most farming families ‘are well aware of the protests against unfair trading practises of beef processors in Southern Ireland which are mimicked across the UK and in particular the relentless reducing of prices being paid to farmers for their cattle across these islands.’