Government must recognise and fairly reward environmental work

29 December 2023

Richard Findlay

Richard Findlay

NFU Livestock Board chair (2018-2024)

Richard Findlay headshot

Photograph: Christopher Booth Photos

In his last New Year message as NFU Livestock Board chair, Richard Findlay talks digital cattle movements, Red Tractor, ELMs and Bluetongue as he prepares to step down from the role after six years.

This past year has been a busy one!

It has brought about the long-awaited consultation on digital cattle movements and registrations through a new LIS (Livestock Information Service) and the introduction of BeID (bovine electronic identification).

The consultation is looking to reduce regulatory burdens, while also ensuring a system that can control infectious disease and maintain essential consumer confidence. We hope to see a decision on the LIS and BeID this year or in early 2025.

Tough business decisions ahead

Sustainability has been the buzzword of 2023, with many pressures coming down from the supply chain to evidence the work we are doing on farm for the climate, environment and biodiversity.

This will inevitably continue, especially as we await results from the independent review into Red Tractor governance. We will also need to work collectively as an organisation on the second part of the review to establish what assurance should look like so it works for both customer and producer.

We need an assurance that is fit for purpose and delivers a clear benefit for producers.

“It has been a challenging time for the sector, but it has been extremely rewarding to see our members adapt, overcome, and remain a fierce global competitor in the red meat industry.”

NFU Livestock Board chair Richard Findlay

The year 2024 will also see the roll-out of more ELMs options. NFU Uplands Forum modelling work highlights the income gap many of us are facing, with domestic policy not making up for lost BPS. This is forcing us to make tough business decisions and puts our overall food security at risk if we cannot make a profit.

Government must recognise and fairly reward the environmental work that we do every day of the year, while ensuring we can carry on producing a highly nutritious and climate-friendly
food product.

NFU support on Bluetongue

Unfortunately, it goes without saying that BTV3 is a concern as we head into the New Year. At time of writing, there are two 10km temporary control zones in Kent and Norfolk and surveillance testing has identified more positive animals.

The NFU is working closely with industry and Defra to make sure abattoirs have the right designations, movement licences are accessible, and vaccine development is being prioritised. We are here to support you, so if you have any concerns about BTV3 please do not hesitate to contact NFU CallFirst on: 0370 845 8458 and continue to check our essential information page.

Farewell message

The 2024 NFU Conference will see me stand down as National Livestock chair after six years in the role.

In my time, I have seen some of the biggest challenges for our sector; post-Brexit domestic policy, a global pandemic, and unprecedented inflationary pressure on input costs. It has been a challenging time, but it has been extremely rewarding to see our members adapt, overcome, and remain a fierce global competitor in the red meat industry.

I look forward to watching the sector continue to progress, albeit from the sidelines!

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