RBST calls on Scottish Government to address ‘local abattoir crisis’

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has accused the Scottish Government of overlooking the “local abattoir crisis” facing livestock producers in many parts of Scotland.

RBST chief executive, Christopher Price, has written a letter to Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon to raise his concerns.

In the letter, Mr Price says two government consultations – Agricultural Transition in Scotland: first steps towards our national policy and Local Food For Everyone – failed to recognise the need to address the abattoir shortage in Scotland.

“The decline of the local abattoir network in Scotland has created a serious obstacle to sustainable farming and local food networks, but both of the Scottish Government’s recent consultation papers on the future of farming and local food have overlooked this vital issue,” said Mr Price.

He said data from Quality Meat Scotland suggested there were now only 26 red meat abattoirs in Scotland and results from an RBST survey earlier this year showed 42% of rare breeds livestock owners cited a lack of a suitable abattoir as one of their top three greatest barriers to business growth.

Mr Price added: “A network of future facing, resilient local abattoirs is crucial for farming with the native breeds of livestock like the Aberdeen-Angus and Highland cattle which play such an important role in supporting Scotland’s biodiversity and are also stars of Scottish food.

“I urge the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands to ensure that the path towards the local abattoir network that Scotland needs is central to the development of local food and farming strategies.”




US market to open doors to British lamb from 2022

Exports of British lamb to the US market can resume from next year after more than two decades of restrictions.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today confirmed it has amended the rule which currently prevents imports of lamb from the UK into the USA. The amended “small ruminant rule” will come into force on 3 January 2022.

This exciting new development means that over 300 million US consumers will soon be able to enjoy the UK’s world-renowned lamb. It is estimated that this market will be worth £37 million in the first five years of trade.

In a call with his US counterpart Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Environment Secretary George Eustice expressed his delight at the news. The Ministers committed to continue to work together in the months ahead.

Today’s update comes after President Biden committed to lift the ban on British lamb during the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House in September, and follows an easing on restrictions on British beef exports earlier this year.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Today’s great news follows years of negotiations and builds on the success in securing the resumption of UK beef exports to the US. UK lamb is renowned for its high quality, food safety and welfare standards. Millions of US consumers will now be able to enjoy British lamb as early as next year”

“The US market for lamb is growing as consumer trends change and there are now new opportunities for farmers and meat processors in this market”.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

“This is fantastic news that brings UK farmers a step closer to putting their first-class lamb on American menus for the first time in more than 20 years.

The UK exported £436.4 million worth of lamb to the world last year and over £29 million worth of meat to the US. We want those numbers to grow and this win will help achieve that.

Our teams are working hard to unlock multi-million-pound markets for brilliant UK businesses and I will be banging the drum for them when I visit the US this week”.



108 companies have 25% of China’s sows

Just 108 companies now control a fourth of China’s swine production capacity, according to a list prepared for a recent swine industry forum. Unpredictable gyrations in China’s hog market continue with the influx of big pig farmers, contrary to the expectations of agricultural officials.

Pigs have historically been scattered across millions of backyard pens, sheds, and living rooms in Chinese villages. At the peak of backyard pig-farming, China’s 1997 agricultural census counted over 130 million rural households raising pigs–usually one or two at a time–and those small family holdings accounted for 95 percent of the swine inventory.

In recent years a handful of companies have been on a hog-farm construction binge. Their expansion accelerated during a 2014-17 environmental regulatory push that shut down hundreds of thousands of small farms. Then the African swine fever epidemic wiped out millions more of small farms, biosecurity requirements and a new round of subsidies favoured big companies, and “pig concept” stocks became fashionable, attracting billions of dollars of capital investment.

A list of 108 companies with at least 10,000 sows was compiled for the 7th China swine industry summit based on company financial reports, industry news, and unpublished sources. The combined sow inventory of the 108 companies as of October-November 2021 was 11.79 million head. That’s about a fourth of the 44.79-million-head national sow inventory reported by the China National Bureau of Statistics’ as of the end of September.

Muyuan Foods Group was the clear number-one company, with 2.7 million sows. Three other companies–Wens Foodstuff, New Hope-Liuhe, and Zhengbang Technology–were listed with 1 million or more sows. These top four companies had a combined 5.9 million sows. Another 15 companies had 100,000-400,000 sows each (3.2 million sows combined), 22 companies had 50,000-90,000 sows (1.4 million combined), and 67 companies had 10,000-40,000 sows (1.2 million combined).

Muyuan pulled ahead of the competition during the African swine fever crisis. A ranking from 2016 showed Wens produced more than 5 times as many hogs as Muyuan and Zhengbang, and a 2019 ranking still showed Wens in the top spot. Muyuan now has 2.7 million sows, more than double Wens’ 1.2 million.

For years Chinese agricultural officials have blamed small farmers for constant booms and busts in the hog industry–“blindly” expanding when prices are high and then killing off sows when prices drop. However, the influx of gigantic farms has perpetuated industry gyrations.

The report estimated that the current population of sows could produce 235.8 million finished hogs if each produced 20 marketed hogs per year. Hogs raised from a sow bred now would be ready for market in September 2022.

The report estimates that 150 companies had 10,000 sows at the beginning of the year, but the number dropped to 108 due to culling of unprofitable sows. The report estimates that the top 108 farms are operating at just two-thirds of their capacity–a third of barns and stalls are empty due to the crash in prices this year.



by Dim Sums

Ads claiming plant-based diet made people stronger withdrawn

The Meatless Farm Company has been ordered to take down adverts which claimed a plant-based diet made people mentally and physically stronger.

The adverts, which ran across social media in October, have been withdrawn following a complaint made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ads claimed going plant-based boosted nurse Anne’s energy and mental and physical health, and made firefighter Jur, mentally and physically stronger.

The AHDB filed the complaint to the watchdog as the adverts did not comply with advertising codes, specifically good health claims must be supported by authorised health claims or made by a national medical or nutrition body, or health charity.

After reviewing, the ASA agreed the adverts broke their advertising rules and requested Meatless Farm to no longer use the adverts and remove any still in use.

The complaint forms part of work carried out by AHDB to challenge misinformation, provide UK specific evidence to the media and beyond, and to ensure a level playing field within advertising.

Earlier this year, the levy board contacted Oatly following its highly publicised ‘Help Dad’ campaign to highlight inaccuracies in its claim “global livestock emit more GHG emissions than all transport combined”. Oatly subsequently corrected the claim.

AHDB’s Head of Media Phil Maiden said: “Advertising rules are there to ensure fairness and transparency for consumers, in which AHDB takes an enormous amount of time and effort to ensure compliance.



by Farming UK

16,000 pigs culled on farms amid ‘worsening’ backlog

Around 16,000 pigs have been culled on UK farms as producers continue to take desperate measures in response to critical worker shortages in processing plants.

The National Pig Association (NPA) said the situation facing the sector remained ‘bleak’ despite the government’s support package announced last month.

The NPA explained that 16,000 pigs had been culled on farms so far, but the true figure could be ‘much higher’.

“The harsh reality is that the situation on farm is getting worse,” the group said on Monday (29 November).

“The backlog is not noticeably easing and, with processing days set to be lost over Christmas, it is likely to be into the New Year before we see any real improvement.”

The situation remains critical despite Defra’s recent support package, which included measures such as 800 new butchers’ visas, a private storage aid scheme and incentives for processors to put on extra kills.

The measures, announced in October, were all designed to increase throughput in processing plants and, in turn, help reduce the severe backlog of pigs on farms.

The sector’s crisis is a direct result of slaughterhouse and butchery worker shortages linked to Brexit and the impact of the pandemic.

But the NPA said the benefits of the support package “have not, yet at least, been seen, with butchers yet to arrive in any significant numbers and processors not taking up the private storage aid option.”



by Farming UK

Lamb prices even higher

Liveweight lamb prices have continued to strengthen in the most recent week. Having fallen last week, this week prices gained back what was lost, and more.

In the week ended 24 November the GB liveweight NSL SQQ rose by 4.4p to stand at 269.57p/kg. Throughputs slipped 3% week-on-week, to 117,000 head.

Liveweight lamb prices have continued to strengthen in the most recent week. Having fallen last week, this week prices gained back what was lost, and more. In the week ended 24 November the GB liveweight NSL SQQ rose by 4.4p to stand at 269.57p/kg. Throughputs slipped 3% week-on-week, to 117,000 head.


By Rebecca Wright / AHDB

New protein gap opening in China?

Just over three years ago China had its first outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF). At the start of 2019, there was a large surge in Chinese import demand for protein as the market looked to fill the gap left by the decline in pork production. International beef and pork markets both benefitted from this demand. Over the last 12 months, Chinese pork production has been recovering which has reduced demand for imported pork.

However, despite any recovery in the pig herd, there could now be a new protein gap emerging – at least in the short term.

Brazil supplies over a third of Chinese beef imports but Brazilian beef is currently suspended from the Chinese market. In the year to October Brazilian beef accounted for around 12% of Chinese red meat protein imports, and 10% if we also included poultry meat.

Any beef which had left Brazil before the ban was put in place, has been accepted by China. The embargo came in September, but due to freight times the effect is not yet showing in Chinese import data. We can however begin to see it in Brazilian export data. This shows that most of the beef has not found an alternative outlet, although Russia has just a three-year long embargo on Brazilian beef. The domestic market in Brazil is unlikely to offer an attractive home for this beef, as demand is weak amid an uncertain economic climate.

For the UK beef (and sheep meat) market there is likely to be little impact. The UK beef market is relatively isolated, as the UK and Europe have only limited interaction with the global market (although this is changing with increased UK access to the US). The sheep market is already tight and having reduced interaction with New Zealand at the moment.



By Rebecca Wright / AHDB

‘Chicken king’ warns of serious food crisis

Great Britain may be facing its worst food crisis in 75 years. Shortages of chicken and turkey are already noticeable and worse is yet to come. The chicken and wider food industry have been hit by a perfect storm.

That warning comes from Ranjit Singh Boparan, often nicknamed Britain’s ‘chicken king’ as founder, owner and president of one of the largest chicken and food producers, the 2 Sisters Food Group. His company processes over 10 million birds a week in the UK, the Netherlands and Poland, and supplies a third of all the poultry products eaten in the UK every day. The company also produces ready-meals, often with chicken, as well as beef products.

But that business is facing serious problems now, Boparan says. The wealthy businessman from Birmingham doesn’t seek the limelight and hardly appears in the media. Earlier this summer, however, he didn’t mince his words with a warning that Britain is on the verge of its most serious food crisis since World War II. “We are finding ourselves confronted by unique, era-defining challenges for the food sector. The supply of chicken and turkey is under threat. Things have to change or we’ll see the worst food shortages in 75 years.”

“I have seen lots of change over the years – but nothing compares to now. The use of the term ‘perfect storm’ has become something of a cliché but never has that been truer than it is today. No one could possibly have predicted that this toxic cocktail of factors would come together at this time. It started with the pandemic, but since May this year the operating environment has deteriorated so profoundly that I can see no other outcome than major food shortages in the UK. Our retail partners and the wider supply chain have worked together closer than ever before to ensure we retain food supply and this is of huge credit to everyone. But we are at a crisis point,” he warns.




By Ruud Peys / Poultry World

No downsides to New Zealand deal, says Trade Secretary

Anne-Marie Trevelyan said there will be ‘protections’ for farmers written into the agreement.

The Trade Secretary said there “isn’t a downside” to the UK-New Zealand trade deal as she was challenged by MPs about the impact the agreement will have on British farmers.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan looked to allay fears that New Zealand meat produce could flood the UK market after the two countries reached an agreement in principle on a free trade deal last month.

The Government has said the deal will cut red tape for businesses and end tariffs on exports but the National Farmers’ Union has warned there is a “huge downside” to the accords with both Australia and New Zealand.

International Trade Committee chairman Angus MacNeil added to that criticism during a hearing on Wednesday, telling the Cabinet minister he believed Wellington was “30 times happier” about the terms of the bilateral trade deal than the UK.

But Ms Trevelyan – who was promoted to her Cabinet job during the September reshuffle – told the Commons committee the deal was “great” for farmers and that “protections” for the sector would be written into the terms.

“I think this is great for farmers and I think it is a fantastic deal for removing tariffs on all food and drink exports, from gin and chocolates, to pork and wine,” she said.

“There is a great range of liberalisation on all of those.

“We will include protections for our agriculture industry where there are sensitivities – a range of tools to defend British farmers against any unfair trading practices that could lurk, and those things like tariff liberalisation on sensitive goods like beef and lamb will be staged over time.

“That creates a level of protection… I’m very comfortable that it is a good deal.”




By Press Association / LBC


Russia reopens market to Brazil for beef and pork, zero-tariff

Russia announced to Brazil that it was reopening its market for a quota of up to 300,000 tons of meat, at zero tariffs, including 200,000 tons of beef and 100,000 tons of pork. Likewise, Russia lifted restrictions on beef exports from a Minerva processing plant and certified a second plant to begin shipments.

The information was transmitted directly to Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Tereza Cristina, who is meeting with officials in Moscow. The opening of the Russian market is valid for six months. Normally the Russian import tariff for up to 530,000 tons is 15%.

Minister Cristina met with the head of the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance and agreed that Russian vets will make an inspection visit to Brazil in the first quarter of 2022 to enable new slaughterhouses to export to Russia.

In a signal of goodwill, Russia removed restrictions, pending since 2017, on a beef exporting plant and certified a second abattoir, both belonging to the Minerva Group. The decisions were personally informed to Minister Cristina during her Moscow visit.

The authorized slaughterhouses are SIF 791, in Rolim de Moura, Rondonia, and 2911, located in Mirassol d’Oeste, Sao Paulo. Produce processed at these plants, such as meat, offal, and bovine fats may begin entering Russia this month.



Merco Press