UK/NI beef price difference highlighted

The View from Northern Ireland: The Livestock and Meat Commissions (LMC) of Northern Ireland  launched a report this morning on Northern Ireland/Great Britain beef prices differences.

The report highlights that between 2009 and 2012 beef farmers in Northern Ireland were paid on average 14p/kg less for R3 steers and 21p/kg for R4 steers compared to their Great Britain counterparts.

The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has welcomed the report and said it will help to shed some light as to why, in its opinion, an unfair differential price exists.

Oxford economics were commissioned by the LMC last year  to undertake both quantitative and qualitative research into this price issue. Its aims were to explore the reasons behind the differential and examine whether there are any areas where action may be taken to remove or at least narrow the differential. The UFU was actively involved in the steering group, which oversaw the report.

Speaking at the report’s launch today, UFU President Harry Sinclair said: “The beef price differential between Northern Ireland and Great Britain has long been a source of frustration for farmers here. Our beef is labelled British and is produced to the exact same standards as across the water, so why are our beef farmers routinely being paid less?

Sinclair continued: “The report highlights that between 2009 and 2012 beef farmers in Northern Ireland were paid on average 14p/kg less for R3 steers and 21p/kg for R4 steers. However the differential went as far as to exceed 40p/kg in autumn 2012. And the fact that the differential is currently sitting at around 20p/kg for R3 steers just shows there is still a lot of work to be done.

He noted: “There is no ‘silver bullet’ to explain the price differential but the report has identified a number of factors that are contributing to it in varying degrees. It also outlines a number of areas for action and offers some recommendations for tackling the differential.”

According to Sinclair: “The UFU will work to see that these actions and recommendations are addressed and will continue to push for the total elimination of the price differential to ensure that our beef producers are paid a fairer price. Furthermore, as the Agri-Food Strategy Board seeks to develop the beef industry going forward building trust will be paramount and removing the price differential would go some way towards assisting this.”

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