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 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

Tesco gives £6.6m to pig producers following plea

UK pig farmers have welcomed a decision by Tesco, their biggest customer, to pay an extra £6.6m to pork producers.

It follows a National Pig Association (NPA) letter to Tesco urging it to “do the right thing” and pay more or risk losing its British pork supply base.

The NPA’s chairman, Norfolk farmer Rob Mutimer, said the organisation was “very, very pleased” with the supermarket giant’s offer.

Tesco said its support between March and August would amount to £10m.

The NPA warned four out of five pig producers could go out of business within a year unless Tesco paid more.

Tesco, whose headquarters is in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, said it had already given the industry £3.4m since March.

Dominic Morrey, Tesco Fresh commercial director, said: “We know there is more to do, and we will be working with suppliers, farmers and the wider industry to drive more transparency and sustainability across our supply chains and support the future of the British pig industry.”

Mr Mutimer, who farms at Swannington near Aylsham, said: “This is a very welcome boost for beleaguered pig farmers, who are currently facing unprecedented costs of production and need a tangible increase in the price they are being paid in order to stay in business.

“We look forward to seeing the pig price rising very soon as a result of this action, and hopefully we can begin to stem the flow of producers exiting the industry.”

 

BBC

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

‘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

 

Lamb price firmness remains

In the week ending 9 February, the GB old season lamb liveweight SQQ averaged 267.3p/kg, 2.2p lower than the week before.

The measure stood at just over 4p below the price recorded for the same week a year ago. Despite this, it was still over 50p/kg dearer than the five-year average for the week.

The number of lambs sold at GB auction marts during the week was estimated at 105,800 head, 5% less than the week before but up 7% from the same week a year ago.

Cull ewes averaged £91.87 per head, up £3.31 on the week.

 

On the deadweight front, the GB old season lamb SQQ ticked up in the week ending 5 February by nearly 10p to average 587.4p/kg. This put the measure up nearly 7p compared to the same week a year ago.

Clean sheep kill was estimated to be 211,700 head for the week, down 1% from the week before but up 14% year-on-year.

 

 

by Hannah Clarke / AHDB