Tempers rise in beef price fall dispute

By Sarah Britton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Meat Trade International trade

Tempers rise in beef price fall dispute
Slaughterers dismiss farmer accusations on falling beef prices

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has rejected a claim by the farmers’ group the National Beef Association (NBA) that abattoirs were exploiting the ending of the over-30 month (OTM) restriction on cattle to push down beef prices.

“I object to that sort of rhetoric,” said the BPMA’s deputy director Maurice McCartney. “It doesn’t help individual farmers in making business decisions on where to sell these animals. Abattoirs operate in a free market and compete with each other to ensure they have enough meat to satisfy customer demand.”

The NBA chairman Duff Burrell said that one of slaughterers’ “habitual ploys” was to create the impression of a falling market.

But McCartney countered: “There seems to be a view that our members fix prices, but even if they wanted, they wouldn’t be able to.”McCartney accepted the negative effect ending the OTM rule had on prices in the short-term by increasing the number of animals on the market. But, he said, farmers could decide whether to accept a deal or shop around for the best price.

He called on the NBA to concentrate its efforts on working with the BMPA to lift the export ban on British beef.

“The real challenge for everyone should be focused on the reopening of beef export trade to provide farmers and slaughterers with more sales options,” he said.

“We should be working together to support the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).”

DEFRA is funding a £5.5m English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) campaign over the next three years to promote opportunities for beef now that OTM cattle have re-entered the food market.

EBLEX will spend £1.7m on events to support exports once the export ban has been lifted; £1m on trade support; £300,000 on advice seminars to support producers; and £2.5m on advertising beef and lamb.

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