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Stackyard News Nov 06

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    Heavy-weight win for NFU livestock board

As part of the livestock board’s on-going commitment to improving the terms and conditions of trade for the red meat sector, the NFU has scored a big win after Defra agreed to stop the traditional practice of ‘rounding down’ when weighing carcasses.


beltex lambs

After continued lobbying by the NFU there has been agreement to give farmers an accurate weight for their lambs rather than rounding down to the nearest 0.5kg. In practice if a lamb carcass weighed 18.4kg, only 18kg would have been be recorded – and paid on - meaning the farmer losing 0.4kg. In the past this would have meant around £5 per animal could be lost, taking into account other deductions such as the cold and hot rebate and the statutory levy.

This victory means:

  • Agreement the actual scale display should be recorded and not rounded down
  • Producers should be informed of the plants’ scale accuracy via operators ‘terms and conditions of trade
  • Industry guidance and practice should be updated

Vice chairman of the NFU livestock board Malcolm Corbett said: “We have been working hard with leaders in the red meat industry to eradicate the rounding down of dead weight carcasses and increase transparency in the supply chain.

“This needed urgent action to stop farmers losing money. Any effect on prices must be balanced by the top of the supply chain.

“This victory is a good step in the right direction however the NFU livestock board will be monitoring the situation to ensure current prices are at least maintained and the future of the industry is sustainable in the light of increased costs and low profitability in the sheep sector.”

1. The historic weighing system was adopted when manual scales were commonplace. Now with digital scales it is no longer necessary to ‘round down’, although the practice was still being used.

2. In making the changes Defra has made amendments to the MLC original guidance revised in 1985 to stop the weighing down procedure.

3. The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 1986 lays down required maximum scale intervals for weighing instruments used for making up and checking packages (under the average quantity legislation). The means the abattoir should use the right type and class of instrument, suitable for its purpose and incorporate fairness.

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