June 22, 2011


UK wants beef market to stabilise



The National Farmers Union (NFU) has represented the UK at high-level European talks which intends to restore stability to the unpredictable beef market caused by extreme volatility and increasing input costs.


The European Commission's Advisory Group on the Beef Sector met for the first time to look at how to safeguard the beef sector. It hopes to determine an action plan ahead of the forthcoming proposals for CAP reform. 


NFU livestock board chairman Alastair Mackintosh commended the commission for recognising the severe problems facing the industry, which has seen an inexorable rise in costs, exacerbated by the drought conditions in many member states.


He said, "Input prices have gone through the roof, yet farmers are not receiving equivalent increases in the beef price. Many UK beef farmers are struggling to make ends meet and those that can make money are nervous of investment, because doing so with unclear future market signals and increasing volatility in input prices is risky."


He said that the EU needed to implement a package of measures to help improve the sector's outlook, including strengthening the export capacity of the EU beef sector by opening access to strategic markets and simplifying the export licence paperwork. He also called for rapid movement along the TSE roadmap and a proportionate cross-compliance regime, as well as mandatory labelling of meat products to help promote and encourage EU beef consumption.


"The commission must also conduct a cost-benefit analysis of trade deals, such as Mercosur, to ensure that the EU does truly benefit from such arrangements. Imports must comply with production standards met by EU farmers as it is ridiculous to impose high welfare, environmental and food safety standards on EU farmers only to import cheaper beef from countries with lower standards."


"We have asked that existing provisions within council regulations are made fit-for-purpose and relevant to present market conditions, such as insurance, as well as exceptional market support measures that better reflects input costs and profit margins."

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