Ulster Farmers’ Union President Ian Marshall is calling on meat processors to show leadership and provide constructive solutions to the ongoing issues with regards to cattle residencies, following reports that certain meat processors have yet to relax the penalties’ applied on cattle with more than four residencies.
Ian Marshall said; “From day one when this issue started the Ulster Farmers’ Union have worked tirelessly to find the most pragmatic and achievable solutions which can improve this situation for local producers. This has involved considerable engagement with processors, livestock markets, other stakeholders and Government. It has taken a long time for livestock markets to accept that farmers needed them to display the number of residencies at point of sale to assist with further marketing of local cattle. Now that this is moving into place, the onus is firmly on processors to accept that they are also an essential part of the overall solution.
“Meat processors must remember that they created this problem and they must offer constructive solutions which will help the industry move forward in what is a very trying time for beef producers. The Agri-Food Strategy Board has consistently said that the entire food supply chain requires an approach based on trust and integrity. Currently farmers are covering the entire cost for a measure which has still not been shown to be scientifically or economically justifiable and it is long overdue that processors take responsibility and share the costs of this problem.
Reports filtering through from our membership have indicated that certain processors are now prepared to work with their regular suppliers by relaxing penalties on cattle with more than four residencies. This is to some degree positive but producers must be aware that they will need to negotiate to get these penalty reductions. In contrast we are also aware that there are other meat plants that have yet to make a move on this important issue. The fact that some processors think it is fair to continue applying such hefty penalties at a time when producers are experiencing severe difficulties is extremely disappointing and clearly shows the disregard these processors have for their loyal suppliers.
Ian continued; “If farmers are not happy with the offer provided by their local processor the best course of action is to take their cattle elsewhere. Further reports from the membership ranks indicate that trade in the livestock markets is healthy for all types of cattle including those with more than four residencies. The welcome re-emergence of buyers from across the water demonstrates that numbers are starting to tighten in GB and the fact that they have much less of an issue purchasing cattle with more than four residencies is an opportunity for producers holding these cattle.”
The UFU will continue to monitor the situation closely as well as report processor practices and would advise farmers to explore all options available when bringing cattle forward for sale.