German court rejects case against meat industry restrictions

BERLIN — Germany’s highest court said Wednesday it has thrown out complaints against a ban on the use of subcontractors in slaughterhouses that was prompted by coronavirus outbreaks early in the pandemic.

The Federal Constitutional Court said it rejected complaints by a sausage manufacturer and several temporary employment agencies against the new rules, which went into force at the beginning of last year.

They require companies to use their own work force to slaughter animals and process meat, with temporary work being restricted and phased out over a three-year period and exceptions only for companies with up to 49 employees.

The use of subcontractors, which was common in the German meat industry, often involved migrant workers living in cramped communal housing and being transported to slaughterhouses in minibuses — heightening the risk of infection when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. A major slaughterhouse outbreak prompted a regional lockdown in western Germany in mid-2020.

The federal court said the sausage company complained of inequality of treatment with other industries, while the employment agencies argued that the new rules violated their right to professional freedom. It said it rejected their cases because of a lack of sufficiently substantiated reasoning.

By Associated Press / ABC News

UK-NZ trade deal criticised by farmers

Farmers are expressing their deep concerns following the signing of a free trade deal between the UK and New Zealand on Monday (February 28).

Hailed by the government as a deal that will slash red tape for companies exporting their goods, British farmers have pointed out the UK market will be flooded with imported food, produced at lower standards.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This deal will slash red tape, remove all tariffs and make it easier for our services companies to set up and prosper in New Zealand.

The NFU was quick to point out that UK farmers will now face “significant extra volumes of imported food – whether or not produced to our own high standards – while securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers.”

NFU President Minette Batters said: “As expected, this deal takes the same approach as the UK-Australia deal in eliminating tariffs for agricultural products, meaning that even for sensitive sectors like beef and lamb, dairy and horticulture, in time there will be no limit to the amount of goods New Zealand can export to the UK.

 

 

By Lisa Young / South West Farmer

Education Secretary: ‘Families decide if meat is part of child’s diet, not schools’

The news comes as parents at Barrowford Primary School in Lancashire were told earlier this month that meat was banned from their children’s canteen and lunch boxes.

The school’s Headteacher, Rachel Tomlinson said she had made the decision in order to ‘stop climate change’ and cited the carbon footprint caused by the livestock industry.

In 2019, two schools – Greenhill Park Primary in West London and the Swan School in Oxford – also banned meat from their menus.

The same policy followed in 2020 at Woolwich Polytechnic for Schools, in South East London, which also stopped pupils from bringing in packed lunches.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Nadhim Zahawi vowed to ‘look closely’ at the issue after the Countryside Alliance sent a letter to the government calling for guidance against ‘agenda-driven policies.’

“I completely agree with the Countryside Alliance: our farmers make an extraordinary contribution to the British countryside and the sustainability of their livestock system.

“It is for families to decide whether meat is part of their child’s diet – not schools,” Mr Zahawi said.

 

 

by FarmingUK

‘Scotch premium’ for beef takes hit in processing sector

Increased supply and bottlenecks in the processing sector have contributed to the recent loss of the “Scotch premium” for beef, which traditionally saw prices for cattle born and bred in Scotland stand higher than those in the rest of the UK, it has been claimed.

With prices for cattle in the north of England currently outstripping those achieved on this side of the border on a regular basis, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) senior economist, Iain Macdonald, said that the BCMS cattle population data pointed to one of the causes,

“In October 2021, the figures signalled a sharp increase in prime cattle supply on Scottish farms, with a 5.4 per cent lift at 18-30-months compared to October 2020. By contrast, numbers were down by 1.3 per cent across England and Wales.

“It is possible that this imbalance has been generating downwards pressure on the relative price of cattle in Scotland,” said Macdonald.

“Scotland’s beef processing sector has been facing considerable labour shortages, restricting its ability to handle the available supply of cattle and potentially weakening competition for these animals.”

He said that this challenge was a reflection of the lack of suitably skilled workers, with UK immigration rules making it harder to recruit from overseas since EU exit, at a time when domestic workers had been favouring careers in other sectors such as warehousing for online retail.

“Furthermore, persistently high Covid case rates in the community and isolation requirements have added to the pressures.”

 

 

The Scotsman

AHDB challenges council’s plans to ditch meat and dairy

Oxfordshire County Council is seeking to move toward providing only plant-based food at future council meetings and events.

Vegan meals could also be made available on school lunch menus at least two days per week.

The controversial plans were passed in December as part of what the council says are efforts to tackle climate change.

In response, local farmers staged a protest outside County Hall in Oxford earlier this month, urging the council to drop the proposals.

Now the AHDB has sent a letter to councillor Liz Leffman, who is leader of the local authority, saying the move “fails to reflect the impact of livestock production here in the UK.”

 

by Farming UK

Mixed week for deadweight cattle prices

There was a small drop in the GB all-prime average deadweight cattle price for week ending 5 February, down 0.6p to 405.1p/kg. Despite this drop, the all-prime price is still 28.3p above the same week a year ago and 52.4p above the 5-year average.

Although steers and heifers’ prices dropped again this week by 0.9p and 0.6p respectively, the price for young bulls increased by 0.5p to 388.9p/kg. The price for cull cows has been steadily increasing since mid-December, up 3.5p this week to 278.2p/kg, highest value since September 2021.

050222 GB prime cattle price

Estimated prime cattle slaughter increased to 31,000 head this week, 3.7% higher than the week before, but 9% lower than a year ago. The estimated cull cow slaughter dropped by 5.4% this week to 10,400 head, sittings 15% lower than at the same time last year.

 

By Freya Shuttleworth / AHDB

Reduced abattoir throughputs may impact future trading patterns

Reduced throughputs at UK abattoirs will have a knock-on impact on future trading patterns, industry chiefs have warned. 

It comes as tight supplies of cattle and sheep have supported the continuing trend of above-average market prices into the first month of 2022.

But last year saw cattle throughputs reach their lowest level since 2015 at 2.7 million head, a 5.7 per cent drop on 2020 and 4.3 per cent below the five year average, according to Defra figures.

Glesni Phillips, data analyst at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), said the decrease in cattle throughput at UK abattoirs last year was not unexpected.

“Increased numbers were processed during 2020 and this led to fewer cattle on the ground,” she said.

“This was especially true for adult cattle which saw throughput fall by almost 6 per cent on the year.”

 

 

Hannah Binns / Farmers Guardian

Beef imports to EU should be suspended in event of no-deal Brexit – IFA

The Irish Farmers Association has said that all beef imports into the European Union should be “suspended immediately” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The IFA President, Tim Cullinan, said that the Mercosur Trade Agreement – which would allow for the import of large volumes of beef into the EU – should also be suspended in the event of a no-deal.

He said that the export of beef to the United Kingdom could be severely impacted by tariffs if there is a no-deal.

Mr Cullinan told the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee that he would be very concerned that the UK could do a deal in beef imports with a third country in the event of a no-deal.

 

 

by Fran McNulty