Tone Trade Brief Talk June 15

17th June 2015

Whilst it is recognised that certain types of animal are better sold deadweight, we need to remember that a balance must be struck.  The live auction system remains strong, particularly in the North, with intense rivalry between small and medium sized abattoirs and also a good number of retailers who still prefer to rely upon their own judgement.

There are a couple of factors that are working against the fattener and restricting freedom of choice.

The first is the infamous “6 day” rule, which in areas such as ours creates the need for red markets.

The second is the various farm assurance schemes which have become more about paperwork, than the farming and welfare aspects.  These schemes are being used by some abattoirs as another way of controlling “the markets” which is supposed to be free.  It seems that common sense has been side-lined by bureaucracy.

Producers of beef are only too aware that to be successful they must look after their animals properly; much of the additional paperwork engendered by farm assurance schemes is actually surplus to requirements.

Speaking to other livestock markets, although numbers of store cattle have remained similar, the average has fallen considerably over the last few years.  This coupled with increased numbers of cows being slaughtered can only lead to a shortage.

It may be necessary for the Government to consider making changes to the single farm payment, and to provide incentives for producers to increase the beef herd.

The long term prospects for beef are fairly optimistic, but on a cautionary note we don’t want meat to become too expensive for the consumer.