Beef industry future under the spotlight in new report

The UK beef sector, a supply chain that generates £2.8 billion for the economy and provides 440,000 jobs in England alone, faces 'significant challenges' to secure a sound future and needs a better vision, according to an NFU report.

The Bullish Prospects report identifies priority areas for action for each part of the chain in order for beef farming to become sustainable and attractive for the next generation of farmers.

“I firmly believe that UK beef production has a positive future" said NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe, speaking ahead of the launch.

Our farmers produce some of the best beef in the world while managing some of the most valued landscapes in the country and delivering consumer expectations on animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

“This is our vision for a profitable, economically sustainable and internationally competitive industry but we hope that others would share this aspiration and we look forward to working towards this with partners throughout the chain in the future.

“If businesses in the processing and retail industries are concerned about future beef supply, and the indications are that they are, then we must start to work together to look about the signals being given to farmers.

“We’ve recently seen an improvement in prices on the back of tight global supply but with the increases in costs of production, many farmers are still struggling to capitalise on this. Any move to increase production inevitably depends on the belief that farmgate margins will rise to profitable levels. The situation in dairy has amply demonstrated that the consumer values British produce and wants their supermarket to deal with their suppliers ethically - ensuring everyone in the chain receives a fair return on their investment is a fundamental part of this.

“This report is a broad base to work from in the years ahead. I’m sure that not all of the messages will be palatable. We have challenged all players, including ourselves and our farmer members. I encourage all in the chain to read the report and join us in working towards our vision for a sustainable beef industry.”