A new carcass dressing specification for cattle has been agreed by the farming unions and main processors.

The new specification, accepted by the NFU, NFU Cymru, the British Meat Processors’ Association, NFU Scotland and the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, is designed to streamline abattoir price-reporting and should give beef farmers much-needed transparency.

NFU livestock board chairman Thomas Binns said the present “New EU” specification meant carcasses were often excessively trimmed before weighing and, consequently, farmer payment suffered.

“As an industry we were concerned we needed a better price-reporting system.

The New EU specification was introduced for the intervention beef market, but with intervention stores now empty, it’s redundant.

This specification leaves the pizzle sheath on the carcass and a covering of fat on the brisket,” he added.

“It removes the potential for human error, such as trimming the same areas on heifer carcasses and reducing their value.”

Although unlikely to boost farmers’ returns, Mr Binns said the move would bring a new level of accountability to the chain, as major processors had agreed to use the new specification when reporting the prices they paid farmers.

Coupled with this, the British Meat Processors’ Association had agreed to publish its members’ killing charges and carcass quality penalties for the first time.

“Farmers can now have confidence they will face only standard deductions wherever they sell their stock,” Mr Binns said.