New Regulation Cost Strategy Needed

UK - The food supply chain must adopt a new, co-ordinated, strategy towards relentless increases in its regulatory cost – otherwise it will inflict further, probably fatal, damage on its already vulnerable production base.
calendar icon 8 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The National Beef Association is alarmed at the industry’s habit of dumping as much new cost as possible on farmers – even though the latter also have to struggle against regular increases in expense and at the same time face up to additional pressure from inadequate market returns.

“Retailers and processors have developed the habit of passing cost increases back to the farmer. But this cannot continue because producers, who are faced with simultaneous, mind-numbing, leaps in feed, fuel, and fertiliser costs are close to breaking point and cannot take on more expense,” warned NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“Beef finishers are already angry at the huge sums taken off them by abattoirs through post-slaughter deductions. These at the very least come to £10 a head, and in some instances approach £20, which on a collective, cross-UK basis creates an annual off-take that is well in excess of £30 million.”

“So they are extremely worried that if the Food Standards Agency succeeds in its ill-advised bid to claw back £32 million a year from the red meat industry through full cost recovery it will be them, and not meat processors, which have to take the hit.”

This being the case the NBA is looking for, whatever the result of the FSA’s plans, a change in the industry’s approach to regulation costs which, it says, must be shared in future and no longer automatically dumped on farmers.

“A re-alignment of shared food sector cost is needed. Processors should already be aware that livestock farmers will refuse to allow new costs to be passed on to them but they should also be aware that beef finishers are looking for a re-appraisal of post-slaughter off-takes as well,” said Ms Haywood.

“The excuses for these deductions show great imagination but they are too painful to be allowed to continue. Finishers will agree that levy payments for Eblex, LMC, HCC and QMS can be collected by abattoirs on their behalf but they are poised to draw a hard line under deductions which in most instances already include FSA inspections costs as well a waste disposal charges, classification, condemnation or insurance.”

“There are no legislative grounds for these deductions which have been slowly and carefully heaped on an un-protesting industry till they have reached the point that hard pressed finishers are collectively saying enough is enough and are ready to take action.”

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