Short supplies of cow beef in Europe, and the inability of the
major supermarkets to source as much discounted steak as they
would like from South America this summer, will help to drive
UK cattle prices upwards, the National Beef Association said
However it is also warning farmers not to rely entirely on the
rising market to repair the damage wreaked on their businesses
during ten years of total reliance on domestic sales and to continue
to focus on meeting the long term challenges forced on them by
decoupling through the introduction of new production efficiencies
and cost reduction measures.
"The restoration of exports immediately makes the beef industry's
outlook much more hopeful but income lifts alone are not a guarantee
of post-Cap reform survival," explained NBA chief executive,
"Rising stock values must not be accompanied by exactly proportionate
increases in cost so attention must be paid, if it is not being
done already, to basic post-decoupling management adjustments which
will include significant reduction to slaughter age, producing
more calves per 100 cows and housing cows for significantly shorter
periods in winter."
"Each of these should combine with the additional income
that will come from post-export market buoyancy to give more farmers
a better chance of eventually generating genuine profit and coping
with the loss of direct subsidy."
According to the NBA the average slaughter age for prime cattle
is still stuck at 24 months when a reduction to 18 months but at
the same slaughter weight could reduce feeding and management costs
by £90 a head for all animals.
"Also the average calving rate in the suckler herd may only
be 85 per cent when a relatively modest target of 92-93 per cent
would produce 7-8 more calves from every 100 cows for very little
additional cost," said Mr Forster.
"On top of this more farmers have already proved that cows
can be housed later, fed on less expensive silage, and turned out
earlier - even in a very late spring."
"And we expect that the rise in dairy bred calf prices triggered
by the resumption of live exports will make all beef production
more secure because it will raise the cost of producing dairy beef
and make suckler beef less vulnerable because the additional cost
of keeping the cow to produce the calf will be less of a structural
"The income benefits for suckled calf breeders from cost
reduction moves and the export fuelled development in dairy beef
will increase massively if the slaughter value of both the cow
and the calf also increases because of more competition in the
beef market but price rises on their own will not be enough to
keep an inefficient farmer in business," he added.
AGM in Hexham a "must attend" meeting
to Better Returns from Beef and Sheep
Too many cull cow casualties wasted
exports will challenge supermarket stranglehold