NFU President Minette Batters and NFU Cymru President John Davies met with Defra minister George Eustice to discuss the cause of the ongoing beef price crisis and how the government can play a part in alleviating the situation.
Following the meeting, Mrs Batters said:
“I was pleased that we 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.
“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.”
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