UK and Ireland talks focus on challenges ahead

Monday, 10 June, 2013

Farming unions from all parts of the UK and Ireland, including the Ulster Farmers’ Union, met in York last week to discuss the challenges facing livestock farmers in production, CAP reform and animal health.

The widespread disruption of the sheep market this year from the weather and the effect of imports brought calls for a better dialogue with grassroots New Zealand producers, whose sheep industry is also feeling the effect of extreme weather this season. The farming unions also resolved to continue to put pressure on the EU Commission to change rules and allow access to funds for the generic promotion of lamb across Europe.

On beef, despite the continued lift in prices, all delegates told a tale of tight supplies and stalling production from the suckler herd due to the rise in costs of production, the effect of a late spring and a shortage of fodder. The meeting heard of the varying attitudes to CAP reform, but every organisation agreed on the need for a strong pillar one single payment and a pragmatic approach on greening.

UFU Hill Farming Chairman John Sheridan and UFU Beef and Lamb Chairman Robert Davidson both attended the meeting. 

Following the meeting John Sheridan said; “Many of our sheep farmers are feeling very uncertain at the moment. The industry as a whole has faced numerous challenges in the last 18 months, a significant one being the influx on New Zealand lamb which has continued to undermine UK and Ireland farm gate prices. At the meeting we agreed that going forward we need to keep communication channels open, gain a better understanding of New Zealand production and champion our sheep meat both at home and abroad.”

Robert Davidson added; “The horse meat scandal was a wake-up call to the industry and commitments have been made that the supply chain will become shorter and more transparent and that there will be greater engagement with suppliers. We are determined to hold our supply chain partners to account on these promises to ensure they deliver.  By building trust and better relationships with farmers our supply chain partners will play a valuable role in boosting the confidence of the industry and could help to ease the feelings of uncertainty surrounding the current CAP reform discussions."