Despite rising prices there is a still a dire lack of confidence in the future of the beef industry, according to NBA director Kim Haywood.
Speaking at a press briefing, Ms Haywood said the industry was on the cusp of a change, but many farmers were taking advantage of high prices and slaughtering a lot of heifers, which should have been retained for breeding. “These people simply don’t believe beef farming can be profitable in future,” she said.
It was essential for government to assess how the single farm payment was being used and whether Article 68 could be brought into play in taking some money from SFP payments to pay to beef farmers to encourage them to keep cows in upland areas, she added. But when challenged as to whether relying on subsidies was the right direction for the sector, Miss Haywood claimed that no production system was currently achieving a profit, even with current prices.
NBA chairman Christopher Thomas Everard backed the call, claiming it was essential taxpayers recognised the value of keeping suckler cows in upland areas and paid farmers appropriately for it. “Environmental payments will be crucial to keeping these cows in the hills.”