The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Beef Trade Talk

16th May 2014

Being based in the Eastern Counties, an area Where the majority of farmland is in intensive arable the beef fattening units are Currently suffering severe pressure due to the decline in the beef price and the general lack of demand across the beef trade.

There has been a steady trend which has accelerated in recent years from cattle being kept on farms in yards over winter due to lack of labour on farms, minimal returns tor cattle finishes and the nigh cost of stores.

Unless a quick return to realism is obtained in the beef trade itis likely that more and more finishers will leave the trade causing severe pressure on the loyal independent slaughter houses who support live markets. Producers have a very short memory with the pig industry having suffered substantial decline following the closure of most live markets for pigs and this is now being reflected throughout the beef trade. With the majority of the beef slaughtering capacity in this country now owned by a few companies, the support of the small wholesalers is the only future for the independent farmers quality stock particularly in areas such as the Eastern Counties which do rely on the finished article and not the production of store cattle.

We are aware as market operators of many cattle being sold in the fat ring in Colchester which originated in the West Country as stores and if those producers are not there to finish the cattle, the West Country farmers will also suffer. Itis a serious time and one that does cause great Concern to all of our Clients including the farmers and the retail butchers. We all need a living but We cannot Work with unfair competition from imported beef and large wholesale Companies manufacturing trade to their benefit.

The live rings provides open competition within moet cases vendors having the ability to take stock home if they are not happy with the price. As it has been said many times in the past iet the eye be thejudge rather than a somewhat artificial dead weight grading system that Currently exists.

We are still lucky in the Eastern Counties to have several medium sized slaughtering units which are the heart beat of the meat industry. We are now trading at prices last seen two years ago with all input costs going up and the store cattle prices in the Autumn being at exceptionally high levels. Confidence is very thin, let us hope that the upturn in the beef trade comes very quickly.