Livestock producers selling non-assured animals through auction markets are losing out on millions of pounds, according to the English Beef and Lamb Executive.

To date, there has been no objective data to back up claims that assured stock was worth more, but now EBLEX has released figures (see box) that it said showed a clear cost advantage for assured businesses with non-assured stock trading at a discount of 3.17m annually.

Farmers selling as few as two beef cattle or 65 lambs for slaughter per year would benefit, said EBLEX chairman John Cross.

“Farm assurance is the foundation on which our industry is able to promote our meat to the consumer, but it is important that farmers are able to see a financial benefit from it.”

Richard Haddock, NFU livestock board chairman, agreed that universal farm assurance was vital to differentiate the quality of home-produced meat from imports, but he said EBLEX’s claims might prove controversial in some parts of the country.

“Some people are complaining that they are not being paid more for assured animals.

The north seems to be very good but in the south-west there is very little difference.”

Mr Haddock said it was up to farmers and auctioneers to highlight that their stock was assured and to stand their ground if buyers were not prepared to pay more.

“At the end of the day it’s all about marketing.”

andrew.shirley@rbi.co.uk