The sheep industry is a step closer to a standardised carcase clarification system, after more than a decade of the NFU, its sector boards and the National Sheep Group urging government to make the change.
Defra’s intention to make the move to a mandatory carcase classification system came in its response to its consultation, Fairness in the supply chain: Consultation on changes to carcase classification and price reporting by abattoirs in England, which was triggered in part by the NFU’s deadweight market transparency work.
The consultation response outlines intentions for a standard dressing specification, the end of rounding down carcase weight, published prices and processing charges, and the use of the EUROP grid to assess conformation and fat.
NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay said:
“It has been a longstanding ambition of the NFU to improve transparency and productivity within the UK’s sheep sector, and this consultation is a huge step towards achieving that goal.
“Sheep meat needs to be brought in line with cattle and pig meat which has mandatory price reporting based on a standard dressing specification and classification, and it is encouraging that Defra have recognised this in their response.
“A standardised system will go some way to ensuring that farmers are paid for what they produce. In turn, this will help drive consistency and quality, and enable producers to compare processors based on the base price quoted.
“However, the response could go one step further in recognising that the only price deduction producers should suffer is the statutory levy, as deductions currently include the running cost for the processors business, not the farmer. Additionally, these deductions should be built into the base price, or itemised consistently so farmers can compare plant by plant.”