UK farming unions put beef and sheep sectors under the spotlight

UK farming unions put beef and sheep sectors under the spotlight

Sheep in a field - photo credit EBLEX

There is call for a European task force to address market transparency in the sheep sector.

Livestock board chairmen from the UK farming unions have met in Brussels to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the beef and sheep sectors.  

The discussions followed Monday’s protests when around 5,000 farmers from across Europe joined forces on the streets of the Belgium capital for a COPA-organised demonstration.

Talks involving the NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union centred around the outcome from the Red Tractor consultation on lifetime assurance for beef, while progress was made on TSE’s and sheep carcase splitting and red tape reviews.

With the call for a European task force to address market transparency in the sheep sector, the group discussed a proposal to introduce a processor code for sheep. This would be similar to the beef processor code and would ask processors to provide their producer suppliers with 12 weeks’ notice of any change to their terms and conditions.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “An EU Commission report found that in 2013 only four processors were actively participating in price reporting across England and Wales. Given that the UK is legally obliged to report prices to the EU and that the UK is the largest producer of sheep meat in the EU this level of participation is inadequate. We would like a processor code to address these issues leading deadweight price reporting and to see an end to the practice of rounding down of weights to the nearest half kilo.”

Also on the table for discussion was the significant shift in trade patterns of New Zealand lamb entering Europe since the original GATT agreement and current TRQ came into force.

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