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Stackyard News May 06

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    Higher prices essential to secure UK beef industry's future

Higher prices for all cattle are essential for the future security of the beef industry and if domestic retailers continue to react slowly to the re-introduction of export trading the quickest way to encourage the necessary lift is to sell as many live animals as possible into premium priced markets elsewhere in the EU, the National Beef Association said today.

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Now that there is open access to the single market it wants the new levels of price competitiveness to be underlined by a serious effort to deliver thousands of veal calves, store cattle, cull cows, slaughter stock and pedigree animals to higher paying EU customers so the live price in the UK can be re-inflated and thousands of farm balance sheets radically improved.

"The opportunity for the beef industry to rescue itself has been offered by export re-connection and it must not be turned down. The speediest possible link must be made with those markets in the EU which pay much more for cattle, and beef, than is paid inside the UK," explained NBA chief executive, Robert Forster.

The Association wants beef farmers to be clear headed and tough minded about this because nothing less than the long term survival of their businesses is at stake.

"If the multiples will not react to export re-opening by allowing their processor-suppliers to pay more for beef cattle in this country then it is obvious that the only way to lift stock values to the levels enjoyed elsewhere in the EU is to sell as many animals as possible directly into these new markets," said Mr Forster.

"Once a significant cross-Channel trade has been established the next phase will be to convince the supermarkets that if they are still stubborn about price lifts they will lose even more cattle to buyers who are keen to top up the ever expanding supply deficits that exist elsewhere in the EU."

"Domestic buyers must understand that if they want home produced cattle, and they want to build secure supply chains in the face of a shrinking world surplus, they will have to pay much more for them than they are doing now."

"They have to realise that if they want UK beef they will have to put their hands in their pockets. Live exports will give an immediate lift to the value of UK cattle and it will then be up to processors to convince their customers that if they do not pay the same price as their EU competitors it will become increasingly difficult to meet their orders."

"Export resumption will allow the UK beef sector to take a specialist role serving Europe's highest paying markets and if the multiples want to meet this challenge they will have to beat the competition."

"Live cattle for slaughter elsewhere in the EU need no TB test and the market for weaned suckled calves, which has already taken 30,000 animals out of the Republic of Ireland this year will soon establish itself across the UK too."

"Some feeders will be alarmed if the higher store cattle prices are not countered by a proportionate lift in the value of finished animals but they too can supply the live export market with slaughter stock - and if the multiples decide they too can pay higher prices then finishers can continue to supply them too," Mr Forster added.

link Day-Long Seminar Programme At Beef Expo
link Valuable export update at NBA AGM in Hexham
link Fight to establish post-export price levels for prime cattle has begun
link Export fuelled price rises not enough on own to rescue beef industry
link NBA AGM in Hexham a "must attend" meeting


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National Beef Association