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Sheep sector moves closer to mandatory sheep carcase classification

NFU said it was a major step forward and ’will go some way to ensuring farmers are paid for what they produce’

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Sheep sector moves closer to mandatory sheep carcase classification

There was strong support for bringing in mandatory sheep carcase classification, following the publication of responses to a consultation on changes to carcase classification and price reporting by abattoirs in England.

 

Organisations across the sheep industry responded to the consultation, including the NFU, National Sheep Association (NSA) and British Meat Processors Association (BMPA).

 

Defra concluded there was strong support for mandatory sheep carcase classification, with a preference to use the EU grid to do so.

 

Transparency

 

John Royle, chief livestock advisor at NFU, said it had been a ‘longstanding ambition’ to improve the productivity and highlight the lack of transparency in the UK sheep sector.

 

“We have called for sheep meat to be brought into line with cattle and pig meat which has specifically asked for mandatory price reporting based on a standard dressing spec and classification.

 

“One of the main triggers for this consultation was the outcome of the NFU deadweight market transparency work which highlighted a number of concerns.

 

“This is a major step forward and will go some way to ensuring farmers are paid for what they produce, which will help drive consistency, quality and enable producers to compare processors based on the base price quoted.

 

“There are currently too many moving parts as dressing specs, classification and weighing practices vary.”


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Nick Allen at the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said they were relatively happy with the findings.

 

“Most of our members were doing it voluntarily anyway,” he said.

 

“There is just a little bit of discussions about what the dressing specifications will be, and we are fairly close to an agreement on that I think.”

The consultations will seek to introduce:

  • A standard dressing specification across England
  • End the practice of rounding down
  • All lambs processed in abattoirs killing more than 1000 per week will have to classified using the EUROP grid
  • Classifiers will be trained, authorised and licenced to ensure consistency across GB and all plants. They will also be subject to RPA inspection.
  • Abattoirs will report deadweight prices to the levy bodies. Lambs sold through a live market will be classified and this reported to the levy body but not the price.
  • Abattoirs will be required to make available and publish all terms and conditions and deductions - however, NFU said this did not go quite far enough as it wanted deductions built into the base price as they were running costs for processors, not farmers or, alternatively, all deductions should itemised and named consistently so farmers can compare plant by plant.
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