UK Government Must Finally Recognise Beef Crisis

NFU Scotland sends joint letter to Secretary of State with other UK farming unions

NFU Scotland, along with counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has written to the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs calling on the UK Government to finally recognise the beef crisis by taking action to protect farmer income.

The letter warns the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers that there will be fundamental damage to the viability of the UK beef suckler herd if the Government doesn’t take action to address the price situation.

The letter calls for the UK Government to recognise the steps taken by the European Commission to support beef farmers in Ireland with €100 million and asks it to consider a UK-wide emergency support package for our beef producers.

The farming unions estimate that during the period from November 2018 to August 2019 beef farmers have lost almost £170 million of income when compared to the previous year, with at least £33 million lost to Scottish farmers and crofters.

NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman Jimmy Ireland said: “So far there has been very little recognition of the plight of Scottish beef farmers and crofters.  We need to see the UK Government show the same recognition of our farmers as the European Commission did for farmers in the Republic of Ireland who are receiving an additional €100 million cash injection.

“At a time when environment is at the top of the agenda, we need to see the Government support local, grass-based suckler beef production.

“I am calling on the UK Government to take essential steps to support the sector, including emergency support for Scotland’s beef producers.

“Along with the other farming unions, we are calling for the Government to extend country of origin labelling from fresh beef to all processed beef products and pump prime more investment in marketing through the red meat levy bodies like QMS.

“This action is another step in our #BackScotchBeef campaign which has seen NFU Scotland publish a six-point plan to drive forward the Scottish beef sector.

“Scottish beef farmers and crofters require an urgent resolution to this situation, and we need to finally see action from the UK Government.”         

Notes to Editors

  • Earlier in 2019 NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick published a six point plan for the beef sector in his blog, as part of the NFU Scotland #BackScotchBeef campaign:
  • The four UK farming Unions (NFU Scotland, NFU, NFU Cymru and the Ulster Farmers’ Union) are calling for the UK Government to take the following steps:
    • UK Government must examine the impact of the €100 million Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) Scheme for Irish beef farmers and must consider emergency support to UK beef producers.
    • Request the establishment of a UK-wide a livestock deficiency payment scheme.
    • UK Government needs to have a complete re-think on the current ‘no deal’ Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) of 230,000 tonnes. The Government must act quickly to amend the tariff policy if there is any distortion seen.
    • UK Government must look at the lack of competition in the supply chain for the UK beef sector and to expand the scope of the processor code to improve transparency and add this as a mandatory footing in the new agriculture bill.
    • UK Government must urgently review their public procurement commitments and commit to sourcing UK beef. 
    • UK Government must move rapidly to introduce country of origin labelling for all processed beef products.
    • UK Government must match fund the UK red meat levy bodies (AHDB, QMS, HCC, LMC)
    • Ministers must travel more to expanding markets like China to secure better and faster market access for the beef sector.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 150/19

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