Grazing sheep© Tim Scrivener

The EU Commission has been presented with a 13-point plan to help sheep farmers, which includes a call for targeted lamb promotional campaigns and improved price reporting so producers can better respond to market signals.

The European Sheepmeat Forum – a collection of cross-industry experts from a range of member states – has presented a set of recommendations to EU farm commissioner Phil Hogan that they believe will help to bring change to the sheep sector.

See also: Asda and Tesco ‘lagging behind’ on sourcing British lamb

The document, which emerged after a workshop in Brussels, includes a demand for up-to-date market data to help farmers make better marketing decisions.

This was one of the main priorities highlighted by the UK farming unions, which argued for a harmonisation of sheep price reporting with data based on a standard dressing specification.

The forum also called for targeted promotion of sheepmeat across Europe to address perceptions that lamb is difficult and slow to cook.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe, who worked on the document, said he hoped the commission would act upon it.

“The commission should take the report’s aims on board and ensure its recommendations are not left on the shelf,” he said.

The Forum’s Recommendations

  • Strong CAP support for the sector, including the option of coupled payments and enhanced rural development measures.
  • A new environmental payment that recognises the role sheep play in enhancing the environment in extensive grassland systems.
  • A communication and promotion programme with a strong focus on the internal market aimed at positioning EU lamb as the automatic choice amongst EU consumers.
  • Increased support for young farmers entering or involved in sheep production.
  • Improved price reporting to provide transparency across the entire supply chain.
  • Regulation across the food chain to remove unfair trading practices and create a fairer trading environment for suppliers, processors and primary producers.
  • Call for preferential market access not to be increased above the currently existing tariff rate quotas.
  • Continued designation of sheepmeat as a sensitive product during the current and future trade negotiations between the EU and its trading partners.
  • For the commission to consider a more proportionate and fairer approach regarding cross-compliance penalties and tolerances.