Can we find an answer?

29th May 2015

May has been a really tough month for finished beef and lamb producers and, though there are the first few signs that the beef trade has begun to turn the corner the sheep sector looks like it will have more to bear in a difficult season.

In Ashford, as everywhere else, all the beef talk is the strength of Sterling and the impact that this is having on imports of Irish beef and the accompanying suppression of price by the manipulative players in the industry. All the sheep talk is the strength of Sterling and the impact that this had on slowing the late season export of over supplied hoggets thereby preventing the new season lamb from establishing a trade before their numbers came thick and fast.

We all want an answer and a remedy today, if not yesterday, and certainly we must have somebody to blame, at least, to make us all feel better.

As ugly as this picture is this is what trade is all about - sometimes good, sometimes bad - never just right for all the people all the time. With suspects in the dock at this time over inter bank and foreign exchange manipulations at the very highest levels one can see the impact that the value of money has on all parts of the economy.

So we put up with it; accept there are good and bad years; continue to watch big business exert unfair advantage; see small and medium firms hamstrung by regulation and costs; witness farming families struggling to survive.

No we certainly do not!!

British agriculture is far too important to simply accept the status quo, a position today that the longer it continues plays into the hands of those big players who are already benefiting and controlling most.

However hard it is to find answers we must challenge ourselves to seek some change to the narrowness of much of our main stream beef and lamb business. Let us look at the diversity that exists in the less traditional areas of the meat trade; let us help to unlock the entrepreneurs in the our midst; let us support with levy funding the challengers to the establishment that just might come up with a model that can help and support a more competitive arena.

Tilting at windmills may be but we are not a happy lot at the moment and we must do more than just telling you that we made 223p/kg of a beast this week!!