The Journal, a north-eastern daily, reports that farming union leaders met in London for a ‘presidential’ summit in June.
Representatives from the IFA, UFU, NFUS, NFU Cymru and the NFU were unanimous that the current downward spiral of farmgate prices was causing serious damage to farmers’ confidence and called for an end to the short termism that will threaten the long term future of the beef supply.
They urged retailers, processors and caterers to start to take responsibility for the decisions they make and the impact those decisions have on the sustainability of the beef sector. Waitrose and Dovecote Park, its dedicated beef supplier, were singled out for their ongoing long-term commitment to their producers. Waitrose sells only British beef in its stores.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Consumers made it clear during Horsegate that they value shorter supply chains, with provenance high on their agenda. At that time major retailers made statements of the importance of economically sustainable supply chains and a commitment to build confidence with producers for a long-term supply of beef. Now is the time that is going to test how deep those commitments run.”
UK union leaders were united on the need for government and businesses to work to ensure that any beef imports meet the same high standards as those asked of British and Irish assured beef. But . . .
High standards – and prices – under threat from cheap imports
All this is under threat. Negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a wide-ranging trade pact between the United States and the European Union – include rethinking the EU’s bans on genetically modified (GM) goods, hormone-treated beef, and chlorine-washed poultry products, regulations which have been in place in the EU for years to protect EU consumers.
Beef production is America’s largest agricultural sector, with more than 1,000,000 businesses, farms and ranches. Texas heads the list of the country’s top ten beef producers in 2012.
Today there will be another farmers’ union meeting in London but the writer sees no hope for any improvement in conditions for food producers until milk, meat, poultry, egg, fruit and vegetables producers work together across the board, instead of focussing only on their own sector’s interests. To date the industry has been successfully divided and ruled.