New schemes must drive productivity for the livestock sector

30 December 2022

Richard Findlay

Richard Findlay

NFU Livestock Board chair

A close up image of Richard Findlay looking at the camera

Photograph: Christopher Booth Photos

In his New Year message, NFU Livestock Board chair Richard Findlay reflects on the impact of the inflationary pressure seen in 2022 and highlights the urgency for policies that will help to drive productivity in 2023 and beyond. 

This year has been dominated by the unprecedented increase in our costs of production, combined with one of the driest summers on record.

We have seen critical farm inputs of fertiliser, feed and fuel rise to unsustainable levels.

Importance of growing export opportunities

Unfortunately, this inflationary pressure looks set to continue and will heap further pain on many businesses, including those more energy-reliant businesses further down the supply chain.

With grocery and energy inflation we’re seeing consumer behaviour change and, to manage their household budgets, shoppers are trading down to cheaper proteins, buying fewer steaks and roasting joints in favour of mince, meatballs and burgers.

This will inevitably erode carcass value.

This is why we need to continue to grow our export opportunities, placing a cut of meat or by-product into the most valuable market is crucial for our sector.

“We are focusing more on productivity and with the right support we can invest in our businesses, embrace technology and use data to inform our business decisions”

NFU Livestock Board chair Richard Findlay

The NFU livestock team surveyed members in September 2022 with the aim of understanding the intentions of the sector.

The results paint a clear picture that many beef and sheep producers are concerned about their business profitability.

Policies fit for the sector

With 70% looking to reduce their fertiliser and feed inputs, and when combined with the progressive erosion of BPS payments and the uncertainty of the ELMs (Environmental Land Management scheme) offer, confidence is shaky at best.

We need a commitment from the government to ensure these new schemes work for the sector and while they support the environment they must also help to grow our nation's food security.

We are focusing more on productivity and with the right support we can invest in our businesses, embrace technology and use data to inform decisions.

We need support from our domestic customers and for government and AHDB to support our ambition to grow exports.

We produce beef and lamb to some of the best and most sustainable standards in the world – so let’s shout about what we do.

Your President's New Year message

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