First published in Meat Trades Journal, NFU Chief Livestock Adviser John Royle shares his thoughts.
Well done to the Scottish government, they have launched an interesting consultation on the introduction of mandatory sheep carcase classification and for abattoirs processing more than 500 animals per week to report prices.
It’s about time that sheep meat was brought into line with similar standards found in the beef and pork sectors. Currently, the UK Government does not enforce mandatory carcase classification or price reporting of sheep. This leads to a distinct lack of transparency with minimal or unreliable market information as few processors currently report dead weight prices.
The NFU and producers have long called for a system that ensures producers receive consistent information on the confirmation and classification of the lambs they sell on a deadweight basis, and how this translates to the payment for each individual carcase.
We would strongly support licencing, testing and independent oversight of graders and classifiers, and for this to extend beyond manual grading. This should include automated classification systems which are now being introduced.
We believe the most important thing is for the farmer to be paid on a standard presentation where the carcase is presented minus the head, feet, tail, udder, genitalia, liver and pluck but with the kidneys and kidney fat are included.
We now hope that Defra follow the Scottish governments example and for processors to embrace this change positively, while ending the practice of rounding down of sheep carcases to the nearest 0.5kg.
The full Consultation can be found here.