ANALYSIS - UK farmers produce some of the best beef in the world, said Charles Sercombe, National Farmers' Union Livestock Board Chairman yesterday at Livestock 2012. Mr Sercombe launched Bullish Beef, a vision for the UK beef industry, writes Charlotte Johnston, TheCattleSite editor.
Bullish Prospects sets out the NFU's vision of a profitable, economically sustainable and internationally competitive industry.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Sercombe said: "We’ve recently seen an improvement in prices on the back of tight global supply but with the increases in costs of production, many farmers are still struggling to capitalise on this. The biggest challenge for farmers facing high input prices is to convert as much of that price into profit."
Recognising that it isn't just beef producers struggling, Mr Sercombe said that low returns have knocked farmer confidence and led to a contraction in the UK cattle herd.
"If the processing and retail industries are concerned about future supply, and the signals are that you are, then we must start to work together to look about the signals being given to farmers.
"Any such move to increase production depends inevitably on the belief that farmgate margins will rise to profitable levels.
"With evidence that consumers are challenged by retail price increases, we need to innovate to become more competitive, focusing on consistency and quality of product, how to ensure the consumer gets more value from the meat they buy and we get more value from each carcase," said Mr Sercombe, recognising the role that exports will play.
Mentioning the NFU's commitment to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB), Mr Sercombe also suggested that bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) may benefit from funding through the Rural Development budget.
The report touches upon value, quality, efficiency, consumers, animal health and welfare and regulations.
"As well as addressing a wide range of challenges we believe the beef industry needs to face, we have also identified the role we believe each sector of the beef industry could play in moving towards the vision which I’m sure we all share."
To achieve this vision, Mr Sercombe said it is important for all players to work together in the long term and invest in the future of the industry.
Concluding, Mr Sercombe said: "We have a positive vision of a profitable, market driven internationally competitive and sustainable beef industry in the UK and we look forward to working with other industry partners to achieve this."
Further ReadingYou can view the full report by clicking here.