A major processor has ‘broken ranks’ on the need to use a fixed cut-off date to age lambs, stalling progress on the rule change Defra was planning to introduce.
Previously, all processors had supported farmers in wanting to end the process of ‘mouthing’, which is estimated to cost the sheep industry £25m a year, but NFU livestock board chair Richard Findlay revealed the united front has now collapsed.
In February last year, Defra plans to implement a cut-off date of June 30 for the 2019 season fell through because of Brexit complications.
At the time, the department promised to continue with its proposals to end teeth checking, but the rule change is now under threat.
Speaking at NFU council in Stoneleigh this week (January 28), Mr Findlay said: “I feel we might be let down by one of the major processors, who has backtracked on the unanimous position we held about moving away from carcass splitting to a cut-off date at the end of June.
“If as a result we do not get it over the line this year, and we are running out of time, let us be honest, I will be very disappointed.
“We will be looking to call out the processor and point the finger, because we should have had this over the line by now, and we would have done if we remained united on the opinion it was the right thing to do.”
It is not known which of the processors has changed position, and Mr Findlay refused to comment on the reason why.
Call for tariffs to level playing field
NFU horticulture board chair Ali Capper called for tariffs to be levied on imports treated with plant protection products which are banned in the UK.
She cited the example of the USA, where growers have access to four times more pesticides and fungicides than British farmers.
Push for EU unfair trading practices directive to be applied in UK
Outgoing Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon has said the Government should be considering applying the EU’s unfair trading practices directive in the UK post-Brexit.
Ms Tacon suggested this may be the best way to ensure farmers receive a fair share of the food pound, because the EU proposals are focused on protecting primary producers, as opposed to consumers, unlike UK legislation.
She said it would be ‘misleading’ to claim applying the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which she regulates, to all farmers would help resolve their issues around price.
Abattoirs ‘colluding’ to keep beef price down
Mr Findlay accused abattoirs of ‘colluding’ to keep the beef price down despite tight supplies.
He was responding to criticism that the board was not doing enough to keep the issue in the spotlight.