Confidence Growing Among Beef Farmers

UK - Nearly two thirds of beef and sheep farmers are planning to invest in their business in the next 12 months, reflecting growing confidence in the fortunes of the sector.
calendar icon 1 May 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

A survey conducted for EBLEX found 60 per cent of respondents were planning significant investment, with machinery (61 per cent), buildings and housing (53 per cent) and changes to the flock/herd (50 per cent) being the most common areas for expansion.

And it revealed the vast majority of auction markets (84 per cent) were also planning investment, along with 48 per cent of abattoirs questioned.

The findings, reflecting confidence in the sector, echo those from an NFU survey from last autumn and comments from EBLEX Board member and chairman of the NFU beef group Andy Foot last week, both suggesting people in the industry felt fortunes were looking brighter now than they have done for some time.

“It is the first time we have asked about planned investment as part of our annual communications survey which we use to inform our decisions on activity for levy payers and find out what they think of some of the services we provide,” said Nick Allen, EBLEX sector director.

“I feel the results are very encouraging and certainly reflect the increased confidence in the beef and sector that we are encountering on farms across England. The steady improvement in the beef price we have experienced since early last year, and the continued strong sheep prices, are having a positive effect.

“However, it would be wrong to suggest that all is rosy and all producers will be seeing additional profits flood in. Conditions have been very tough for a number of years. What we hope we are seeing is the start of a rebalancing in the industry where margins begin to improve for producers.”

The survey also revealed that 30 per cent of respondents had changed on-farm practices in a direct effort to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly two-thirds of Better Returns Programme (BRP) members had made a change to their business as a result of attending an EBLEX event. The majority of producers now record their costs of production and satisfaction with BRP materials remains high, with nearly 80 per cent rating them as good or very good.

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