Beef Matters Take to the Streets

UK - People power is being harnessed in an NFU campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of beef and sheep farming to the countryside, the economy and the environment.
calendar icon 27 February 2008
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

Peter Kendall

Launched in November, the NFU's Why Beef and Sheep Farming Matters campaign is now being taken to a new level with regional cooking roadshows being organised across the country.

A partnership of organisations is backing the campaign, reflecting the importance of beef and sheep farming to a range of different interests. Alongside farming organisations like the NFU, the English Beef and Lamb Executive and Farmers' Guardian newspaper are ranged the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Townswomen's Guild, The National Council of Women and the Women's Farming Union. In this particular initiative, and funded by the South West Regional Development Agency, Meat South West is working together with the NFU to host a 'ready, steady, cook-style' demonstration to raise awareness of the campaign, kicking off in Gloucester on Wednesday February 27.

A survey produced for the NFU by YouGov reported that 72 per cent of shoppers want to be able to buy British beef and lamb and 80 per cent of consumers think supermarkets should be offering farmers a fair deal. But with current prices well below production costs farmers are working at a loss and unless the situation changes with an improved farmgate price the future sustainability of the British livestock sector remains at risk.


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"unless farmers' prices start to rise, to fill the yawning gap between what it costs to produce beef cattle and sheep and what farmers are paid for them, British beef and lamb will become niche products."
NFU President Peter Kendall

NFU President Peter Kendall said: "It doesn't surprise me at all that the vast majority of consumers want to buy British beef and lamb. But the plain fact is that unless farmers' prices start to rise, to fill the yawning gap between what it costs to produce beef cattle and sheep and what farmers are paid for them, British beef and lamb will become niche products.

"That will be bad for consumers, bad for farming, bad for employment in the meat industry and bad for the countryside. That is why we are calling on people who care about where their beef and lamb comes from, and who care about the countryside where it is produced, to put pressure on the supermarkets to start the process of lifting farmers' prices to a sustainable level."

NFU livestock board chairman Thomas Binns added: "Since 2004, the beef herd in England has fallen by 11 per cent and the sheep breeding flock by over 10 per cent. Even more worrying for the future is the decline in the number of younger beef cattle in the pipeline - down by 15 per cent in just four years.

"And these figures are taken from the June 2007 agricultural census - before the devastating outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and bluetongue, and the impact which they are bound to have had, on sheep numbers especially."

Campaign partner EBLEX's chief executive Richard Ali said: "A thriving rural economy and the maintenance of England's diverse landscape depends on the ability of the vast majority of its beef and sheep producers to run truly sustainable businesses. EBLEX is delighted to be working with the NFU and its industry partners on this campaign."

Further Reading

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