UK government to call beef summit

The UK government is calling a beef summit to discuss the long-term sustainability of the industry. It comes in the wake of the Irish Beef Summit and will call together stakeholders across the sector.

A Defra spokesperson said: “Britain’s beef industry is hugely important for the farming sector. Our summit will bring together all sections of the beef industry to discuss its long term sustainability and how UK farmers, processors and supermarkets can work together better.”

No date has been set for the meeting, but the National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling for it to take place this month.

NFU President Meurig Raymond said with a reduced beef supply forecast as we reach the end of the year, and with fewer cattle coming forward, there needs to be a change of attitude and a realisation that beef farmers have no option but to work to a long term plan. “It’s impossible to work to do that when everyone else is thinking in the short term. It is a cliché that we have used before, but the beef supply is not a tap that can be turned on and off at a moment’s notice.”

The move comes just weeks after farming union leaders from the IFA, Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, and the National Farmers’ Union met at a Presidential Summit in London to discuss the current beef situation.

There was unanimous agreement that the current downward spiral of farm gate prices is causing serious damage to farmers’ confidence. And also that retailers, processors and caterers must all start to take responsibility for the decisions they make and the impact those decisions have on the sustainability of the beef sector.

Equally unanimous was the call for the promotion of local beef to the consumer by retailers, and the need for long-term signals that instil confidence in the beef sector, and an end to the short-termism that damages confidence and will threaten the long term future of the beef supply.