French sheep farmers warn against EU/NZ trade deal

A PROPOSED trade deal between New Zealand and the EU would see 38,000 tonnes lamb arrive at half the price of its competitors, French farming leaders have warned.

The president of the French National Sheep Federation, Michèle Boudoin, warned: “This agreement foresees sending 38,000 extra tonnes of sheep meat to Europe every year over the next seven years. On top of the current 114,000.

“We know how this is going to happen – our sector was globalised very early on, in the 1990s,” said Mr Boudoin. “The sheep is a very political animal. A bargaining chip. Since then, 228,000 tonnes of tax-free sheep are imported into Europe every year (with the United Kingdom at the time). Since then, the industry has been in decline. And this new agreement will make the situation even worse.”

The French sheep farmer went on to complain about the timing of NZ shipments of lamb hitting the shelves every year at Easter: “This is the most important time for our industry. Lamb is ecumenical and is eaten at Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim Easter in March.

“This means that NZ lambs can be found alongside Irish, Spanish and English lambs killed a few days earlier. The latter are sold for between €15 and €17 per kilo. €23 for the French. While the New Zealanders don’t exceed €10. Two and a half times cheaper. And this without any indication to the consumer, neither on the date of slaughter nor on the method of preservation.”

 

John Sleigh / The Scottish Farmer

 

UK ministers accused of failing to fight for farmers with NZ trade deal

Welsh farmers’ leaders have criticised the UK Government’s new trade deal with New Zealand and says ministers have failed “to fight for the interests of our farmers”.

The government is also accused of blocking scrutiny of the deal which is currently awaiting MP’s approval.

Comparing the UK’s deal with a recently agreed pact between the EU and New Zealand, the Farmers’ Union of Wales says the import quota for sheep meat in year one of the agreement signed by the UK is more than forty times higher per head of population in the UK compared with the European Union agreement.

The EU-New Zealand trade deal, recently agreed in principle, would allow an additional 5,429 tonnes of sheep meat to be imported duty-free into the EU in year one of the agreement, whilst the equivalent figure for the UK in the deal announced in February this year is 35,000 tonnes.

“The UK increase in duty free quota for New Zealand sheep meat would be almost six and a half times higher in year one than what has been negotiated by the EU,” said FUW President Glyn Roberts.

“However, when you take account of the fact that the population of the EU is nearly seven times higher than that of the UK, the increase per consumer is 43 times higher in the UK than in the EU.”

Mr Roberts said that another way of looking at the figure was that the EU had fought forty times harder for its sheep industry than the UK during its trade negotiations with New Zealand.

 

Nation Cymru

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

Pig sector urges retailers to copy Waitrose’s price pledge

The pig sector has urged UK retailers to follow Waitrose after it made a fresh pledge to pay farmers a fair price during the backlog crisis.

Waitrose said it would be extending its commitment to pay a ‘fair and sustainable’ minimum price for pork to all of its pig producers.

The pledge has been made as prices continue to plummet, alongside record costs of production and an on-farm backlog of approximately 200,000 pigs.

The sector has faced a range of challenges, including the loss of exports to the Chinese market for certain pig processors, global disruption to CO2 supplies, and crippling labour shortages.

Waitrose’s move extends its previous commitment announced in November 2021, which it agreed to review on a regular basis.

Announcing the price pledge, the retailer warned the pig sector was facing ‘the biggest crisis in a generation’, with ‘falling prices impacting financial sustainability’.

 

 

by FarmingUK

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

Waitrose pledges renewed support for troubled pig sector

The move comes amid growing concerns over the pig sector, which is facing the biggest crisis it has seen in a generation.

The current estimate is that around 200,000 pigs are backed up on farms across the country due to a lack of labour in processing plants.

The sector is also facing falling prices impacting its financial sustainability, as well as global disruption to CO2 supplies.

In response, Waitrose said it would be extending its pledge to pay a “fair and sustainable, minimum price for pork to all of our dedicated farmers – even if prices continue to fall.”

Jake Pickering, senior agriculture manager for the supermarket said: “We need to support our farmers before it’s too late to save their bacon.

“They kept food on our tables through the pandemic, and we need to help them through their tough times too.

“By guaranteeing a base price for pork, we’re protecting farmers for the months ahead and allowing them to plan for a long-term, sustainable future.”

 

 

by FarmingUK

 

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