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

Plans for new Scotbeef abattoir remain on hold

Plans to build a new abattoir in the north-east of Scotland will remain on hold, Scotbeef Inverurie has confirmed in its latest accounts.

The company – which is jointly owned by Scotland’s largest red meat processor JW Galloway and north-east farmers’ co-operative ANM Group – has long been planning to build a new abattoir on land at ANM’s Thainstone Business Park near Inverurie.

However, the plans were put on hold due to the “unknown impact” of Covid-19 and Brexit on the company’s marketplace.

In its latest accounts, which cover the year to February 28, 2021, JW Galloway and Scotbeef Inverurie managing director Robbie Galloway said: “In light of the continued uncertainty posed by further Covid-19 outbreaks, the directors have decided to keep the project in its current status, and the group will look to restart it when the economic outlook is more certain.”

The accounts reveal a drop in both turnover and pre-tax profits during the year.

Turnover was down slightly to £68.25 million, from £68.28m the year before, while pre-tax profits were down 48% to £350,000.

 

By Gemma Mackie / The Press and Journal

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

Parliament urged to reject Australia deal

National Beef Association chief executive Neil Shand has called on Parliament to reject the Australia trade deal in a bid to force the Government back into negotiations.

Speaking to Farmers Guardian after appearing before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee this week, Mr Shand said while he believed the ‘horse may have bolted’ on the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), there was hope for a better arrangement for farmers if Parliament threw out the deal.

Industry groups have already raised concerns over the scrutiny of trade agreements, which is governed by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRAG). Under CRAG rules, if a trade deal is tabled in Parliament, and MPs do not vote against it, it is automatically ratified. If MPs do vote against the deal, Ministers can re-table it and the Commons has 21 days to delay the process again, with this cycle able to go on indefinitely.

“We would urge Parliament not to vote the deal through and go back and re-negotiate on better terms,” Mr Shand said.

“While there may be benefits to the UK economy, there is no benefit to British beef whatsoever. They [the Government] need to learn that by rushing to secure a deal, mistakes have been made.”

 

 

by Jane Thynne / Farmers Guardian

China suspends Lithuanian beef as Taiwan row grows

BEIJING/VILNIUS (Reuters) -China suspended imports of beef, dairy and beer from Lithuania this week, Lithuania’s veterinary control agency said on Thursday, amid a growing trade dispute over the Baltic nation’s relations with Taiwan.

China’s General Administration of Customs had informed the country it was halting the exports due to “lack of documentation”, the agency said in a statement.

It added that “this is first such notification we ever received, because the importing countries usually start by asking for any missing information”.

The Chinese agency said earlier on Thursday it had stopped imports of Lithuanian beef but gave no specific reason.

Relations frayed after Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital Vilnius last year, angering Beijing which regards the democratically-ruled island as its own territory.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Wednesday during a visit to Australia that nations seeking to use trade as a retaliatory measure must be reminded that “like-minded countries have tools and regulations that help withstand the coercion”.

Britain said on Monday it will join the United States and Australia in backing an EU trade case against China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s alleged trade curbs on Lithuania.

 

 

By Dominique Patton, Andrius Sytas / Reuters

Abattoir plans £15m expansion in Bamber Bridge

Dunbia has applied for planning permission for a new beef chilling unit and other modernisation works on its site at Walton Summit to add to the £20m it has already spent there in the past two years.

The plans will go before South Ribble’ s planning committee on Thursday, with councillors advised to give them the thumbs up.

The plant, which processes cattle and sheep, is bounded by Church Road and the M65 motorway. It is one of 12 Dunbia sites in the UK and one of the biggest employers in the area.

The Northern Ireland based company says this latest scheme is the third phase of a £35m modernisation and rationalisation programme “giving security to the existing 730 jobs at Dunbia.”

A report to the planning committee adds: “Dunbia has invested over £20m in the last two years on this site. The scheme is part of that commitment and adds another £15m in investment.

“This investment secures existing jobs on the site and will create a further 100-plus construction jobs that may arise from this phase on investment (over 12 months).”

The work will involve erecting the new beef chiller unit, adding new lairage buildings for animals to be rested before slaughter, adding an extension to another building on the site and raising the roof on an existing refrigeration unit following the demolition of a storage shed and existing lairage spaces.

 

 

By Brian Ellis / Lancashire Evening Post